“I feel that everything I do is very well received in the community, as I get a lot of positive feedback.”

Lars is in Darling as a weltwärts volunteer for one year and supports PlayHandball’s partner organization “Darling Outreach Foundation” on site. The Darling Outreach Foundation’s mission is to create educational opportunities and help improve the physical well-being of vulnerable children. In the following interview, our volunteer Lars talks about his experience after the first two months:

PLAY HANDBALL: Why is handball important for you and what has it done for you?

Lars: When I played handball for the first time six years ago, I never thought it would change my life like this. I fell in love with the sport right away. But it’s not just playing handball itself that makes the sport great – it’s the whole handball community. Playing on a team where everyone supports each other and everyone is there for each other is one of the best feelings. You come to practice or play a match, forget about all your other problems, and only have handball on your mind. Besides playing itselfs, however, handball also gave me the job of coaching young, motivated junior players, which ultimately brought me to South Africa for a year. It’s just incredible to see the joy on the kids’ faces when they learn something new, have a sense of achievement or just have fun playing handball.

PLAY HANDBALL: How did you heard about PLAY HANDBALL ZA?

Lars: I have to say, I haven’t known PlayHandball for that long and I only became aware of the organization during my search for a volunteer service. When it was clear to me that I wanted to go abroad, I looked at all kinds of projects at weltwaerts and finally came across PlayHandball. I quickly realized that this prject was the right one for me.

PLAY HANDBALL: Why did you decided to become a Handball Volunteer in South Africa?

Lars: After I started my sport studies last year, I realized very quickly that I am not ready to study for three years. Basically, I decided to volunteer because I wanted to have this unique experience of spending a year in a new culture, with a new language, with new traditions and also a new daily life. When I then found out that I could combine this with my passion, the plan was of course perfect. For me, handball is simply a way to get in touch with new people, to exchange ideas and learn from each other.

PLAY HANDBALL: How long have you been now a handball volunteer in South Africa?

Lars: I have been a volunteer in South Africa for over two months now.

PLAY HANDBALL: What was the most memorable experience?

Lars: In the early days, there wasn’t “the one” situation that stuck in my mind. It’s just always little nice moments that you remember again. One example is when I was on my way to the store and met a little kid from school, with whom I then walked back together and had a long chat. Or one day at the Darling Outreach Foundation, all the kids were having so much fun pronouncing the German word “eyebrow” that we just sat there, saying the word over and over and laughing. For me, it’s mostly these little moments that I always remember fondly.

PLAY HANDBALL: What was the greatest challenge until now?

Lars: The biggest challenge I have so far is actually remembering the names and faces of people I meet new. Of course, this doesn’t apply to the people I see every day or very often, but I’ve often had the situation where I was approached by someone who knew me, but unfortunately, I couldn’t remember the person. Then you’re always wondering if you should ask for the name or just pretend that you still know the person. A second thing that I have problems with from time to time is the situation that the students/children/players sometimes don’t feel like joining in, or just do everything but listen. Especially when there is no teacher around, it’s really hard for me to get the kids to join in again. If you have children who don’t understand everything in English, it’s even more difficult.

PLAY HANDBALL: How do you experience the handball coaching at school/ community?

Lars: Before I left, I thought a lot about the handball project: How will handball be received in South Africa? How will I be respected as a coach? To what extent can a “real” handball training take place? And of course, many things turned out differently than expected. Not even in a negative sense, rather the opposite – some things are already working out really well. The most important thing first: almost all children always have a lot of fun during handball training. Even though I only have 30 minutes with a class at the schools, it’s still possible to do a few drills and games. Also, the language barriers are not really a problem. Most of the children understand me really well and even if something is not understood, I always get help and it is simply translated into Afrikaans. Of course, the difference in performance is often noticeable and you always have to make sure that everyone is well integrated into the training. It always makes me very happy when I see that they play as a team and that everyone is able to play. Of course, things don’t always go perfectly – there are always students who don’t feel like playing or who would rather play soccer. Often the classes arrive too late, so that you only have 20 minutes left. But even then, you just have to improvise a bit and you can really achieve a lot in a short time

PLAY HANDBALL: How has your work had an impact on you and in the community?

Lars: The work I do has a very positive effect on me. Every handball session helps me to develop personally and I learn a lot in my role as a handball coach. It was a very unusual situation for me to teach a group a sport that is new to them in another language, but this challenge helps me a lot to leave my comfort zone and try new things. I also feel that everything I do is very well received in the community, as I get a lot of positive feedback. Especially the fact that many kids feel like coming back to handball practice every week shows me that my work is also appreciated and everyone wants to be a part of it. I am also asked again and again, whether by teachers, other schools or even children, if I can also play handball with them, which always gives me great pleasure and motivates me even more to spread the project further.

PLAY HANDBALL: How is the life with a local South African host family?

Lars: From the beginning, I was very warmly welcomed into the family and treated well. I was integrated directly into the family and after a very short time I no longer felt like I was in a foreign country or surrounded by foreign people. Here at home, I am provided with everything I need, I get a lot of attention, but I also have my freedoms. I can talk to everyone about everything and immediately help is offered from every side. In addition, I experience life in the host family as very sociable. my family is not limited to my host mother, with whom I live, but every day others come to visit and if I’m ever bored, I can go to other homes at any time and just sit there and talk with people.

PLAY HANDBALL: Any other comments or sentiments you’d like to share

Lars: I am very grateful to have the chance to support such a project and to be able to make this journey – I enjoy every moment I experience here. Before I started volunteering, I couldn’t imagine how much joy you can get from so many little moments and how nice and also important it is to get in touch with so many new people and share your experiences. Even if everything doesn’t always go perfectly and you also have times when things aren’t going so well, it is a unique experience to get to know a new culture and a new country in this way. I am looking forward to the coming months!

 

 

 

 

More in this category: PlayHandball as part of the GloKnoCo Project in Brighton » Sophia tells about her first weeks in Kenya » Martin Bergers handball experience in Africa » Linah tells about her experiences as a participant of the Trilateral Youth Coaches Encounter » Christian tells of his experiences as a volunteer in Lamberts Bay » PlayHandball part of the GloKnoCo School in Brussels » Lisza reports from her experiences as a volunteer in Cape Town » Mid-term seminar with our weltwaerts-volunteers » Simon tells of his experiences as a volunteer in Juja » Kick-off-Weekend of the Trilateral Youth Coaches Exchange » Virtual exchange connects young coaches from Germany, Kenya and South Africa. » Re-launch of the Weltwärts Volunteer Program in Kenya and South Africa. » Community Talk with Louise Barends from Darling Outreach Foundation in South Africa » A year full of uncertainty, waiting and flexibility instead of experiencing South Africa as a handball volunteer. » Play Handball Corona Aid helps over 1000 people in South Africa and Kenya. » Midterm-Seminar and Partner Meeting » Léon reports from his experience as volunteer by our partner organisation Empower Gils Plus in Kisumu, Kenia » Jasper is one of the first volunteers in Kenya and reports from his experience » Take action for the future – the 4th SuperCup in Cape Town inspires 150 kids to take action for climate change » Hanna reports from her experiences in 2 different communities around Cape Town » Press Release – Play Handball SuperCup 2019 in Cape Town » Laura tells of her experiences as a volunteer in Cape Town » PendoAmani in Kenya & PLAY HANDBALL initiate Handball After School Program » From Blomberg to the Cape – As volunteer coaches in South Africa » Meet The Volunteer: Sophia experiences township life in Jo’burg » “I am, You are, We are South Africa!” – Ubomi Children Camp July 2019 » Play Handball Volunteer Programme extends to Kenya » Interview with our Swiss volunteer Daniel Schettler » Handball is an universal language – Play Handball at Karookop Primary School » Interview with Thabang from Franschhoek Community Sport Centre » Supercup inspires over 450 children in Africa » With Handball active for a climate change – Play Handball Supercup 2018 in Delft, Cape Town » Play Handball Supercup 2018 in Benoni » Super handball action at the Sinaba Stadium in Daveyton » Donation Campaign of Kim Ekdahl Du Rietz brings about 30 000 Euro » Interview with the volunteer Matti Schubert » Learners embrace new sport » Handball is a new sport in the farming area of Piketberg » First ever PLAY HANDBALL Junior Cup in Stellenbosch » VOLUNTEER INTERVIEW with SIMON UTTKE » Get your own Calendar of “Memories of Joy and Unity with Handball” for your donation of 25€ and more » Conclusion ‘Play Handball’ 2017 » Using Sport to raise awareness for Climate Change! » Interview with Michael Haaß (HC Erlangen, World Champion 2007) – “Handball and Sport in general open doors for your life.” » PLAY HANDBALL starts in Kenya in 2017 » The 1st climate-neutral handball tournament series in South Africa » PLAY HANDBALL SuperCup on the 29th of October 2016, in Johannesburg and on the 19th of November in Cape Town, » PLAY HANDBALL SuperCup on the 24th of April 2016 at the German International School in Tamboerskloof, Cape Town. » STREET UP YOUR HANDBALL – Developing communities around South Africa with and through handball » SolarWorld powers Handball in South Africa » THE START OF A NEW HANDBALL VOLUNTEER PROGRAM » GIRLS HANDBALL DAY – TRAIN WITH THE PROS PROMOTING fun, health, passion and multi-cultural cohesion » Halftime for the handball development project of the German Olympic Sports Confederation in partnership with the South African Handball Federation in the Western Cape » Partnership for handball development between Germany and South Africa: Short-term handball development project financed by means of German Federal Foreign Office »
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