My motivation in the last years was to experience handball and the culture in other countries, to learn new things about handball and to support together with people on the spot. I had heard about PlayHandball during my studies when the idea came up to go abroad and gain more experience with handball. It was only realized after my master’s degree in the context of my handball world tour. Thanks to Corona, this “only” turned into a trip to Europe and Africa in the spirit of handball. From Norway, to Denmark via France and Spain to Portugal, I was able to get to know European handball better in about 14 months. Afterwards, my journey took me to Kenya and South Africa for PlayHandball for another 4 months. In the following I report about my insight of my experiences at PlayHandball in Kenya and South Africa.

In the middle of February 2022 I went to Nairobi – Kenya, to the already known Carol Nange – Kenya responsible person of PlayHandball. Carol I could already receive for a week in December 2019 in Berlin and accordingly I was looking forward to the reunion. She had visited Germany at that time to meet the partners of PlayHandball – so similar to me now. In Nairobi, we held a three-day workshop together with coaches from all over Kenya. Afterwards, I got to coach the national deaf team. Here it was super exciting for me to work with visual, rather than acoustic signals; a whistle had no effect, but a bouncing motion as a prelude did. Of course, there was also time to visit the national park and get to know the city. There especially Mathare – slum in Nairobi – gave me a lot to think about, as it was my first experience with such poverty and for me uninhabitable circumstances. I was all the more impressed when I understood the path the Nange family (raised in Mathare) has taken and where they are now.
After Nairobi, I visited the partner organization PendoAmani in Juja and the German volunteer on site, Simon Gorholt. I moved in with his host family and supported his project work in schools with his Kenyan counterpart Panfied. A special highlight was a big school tournament, where we drew the fields with chalk beforehand. Not the last time! Afterwards I took the opportunity to also experience the beautiful nature in Kenya. Together we did a guided Mount Kenya hike. After the 5-day hike, we headed to the Masai Mara for another highlight. At PlayHandball’s partner school in Narok, together with Brian (also TYCE youth coach), Victor (PlayHandball Coaches Coordinator) and Panfied, we hosted a week-long handball camp in a Masai school. Handball was learned from scratch, creativity was encouraged in small artistic performances, and in between we were part of a traditional slaughter of a goat. On the penultimate day I was amazed. When Simon and I arrived for the early morning training, the goals were already set up on the field and the kids were playing quite decent handball in self-organized teams. After the camp we visited the Massai Mara for three days. A safari I will never forget. Afterwards we parted ways and Simon went back to Juja and I visited PlayHandball’s partner project “Empower Girls Plus” – led by Ruth Moodie – in Kisumu. It was there that I realized how important sports are for after-school activities and youth development. Ruth and Movet in Kisumu played handball with the kids every day on a large open green space. At first I wondered how it was possible to practice handball 3-4 hours a day. Until I noticed that this was a pure “ball field” mentality. Better to go home right after school with the ball in hand and at sunset than to go off the rails due to boredom. In Kisumu we then visited the aid projects of Empower Girls Plus and supported an orphanage with food for the coming month. At the final big tournament, we didn’t just draw the lines with chalk, but quickly built our own goals out of wooden beams. Afterwards I went back to Nairobi via the cities of Nakuru and Naivasha and from there to South Africa.

In Cape Town, I supported the German volunteers on site during the first days. So I could help directly with the training at the local schools and also led a training of the handball club CapeStars. On the weekend, PlayHandball ZA organized a two-day coaching workshop – led by Nicola and me – for the Western Cape. Here I was able to learn a lot from Nicola about the introduction of handball. When there was no handball on the agenda, Nicola led me on adventurous trails up Table Mountain and showed me the beautiful beaches of the Cape. Afterwards, I went to the rural communities (Lambert’s Bay, Graafwater, Darling, Piketberg) to join the other volunteers in South Africa. Several training sessions in the schools and workshops with the teachers were conducted before heading to the Cederberg Mountains for a true natural spectacle of hiking and climbing. Afterwards I was on my own for a couple of weeks. I used this handball-free time to explore the Garden Route and to start a road trip from Johannesburg with my family.
During the last 2 weeks in Johannesburg, there were again many training sessions in the schools and workshops with the teachers. The highlight was a coaching workshop at the German School Johannesburg. Here I was hosted by the PlayHandball partner “Sport Initiative Projects”. Bongani (head of the organization) and Linah (also a TYCE volunteer) accompanied me in a varied week in Gauteng. A bonus for the participants of the three workshops in Kenya and South Africa was that they were all provided with the Learn.Handball app, which they can then use to assist them in their training planning after my visit.
After 118 days in Africa, my plane headed back to Germany. Highlights of this trip are of course:
… the handball challenges. The situation of chasing children without shoes on stony sand courts an old handball and throwing it into an improvised goal made of little hats showed once again the power of sport. In addition, the difficulties of circumventing language barriers and still doing methodical handball training are incomparably higher than in Germany. Because how do you keep 30 kids with 4 handballs busy in 30 minutes of training time in a meaningful and developing way?
… the breathtaking nature. Be it the mountain ranges of the 12 Apostles in Cape Town, the sunrise at Mount Kenya with almost 5000 m, the Cederberg Mountains or the many beautiful beaches at the Atlantic or Indian Ocean.
… to be a small part of the life of the people who invest so much energy and love in the development and spreading of the sport of handball. And doing this on a voluntary basis alongside all the day-to-day and structural challenges in Africa. I very much hope to use this opportunity to motivate more coaches from Germany and Europe to visit these countries and the continent in the spirit of handball. You exchange a lot of knowledge and your own resources for unforgettable moments and experiences.
Thank you Play Handball!
Martin Berger.


More in this category: Supercup inspires more than 300 youth for sustainable behaviours and handball » Holiday Camp in Kenya » Adopt-A-Club launches fundraising campaign for the Bo-Kaap Handball Club » Start of Handball and Volunteer Season » Play Handball Supercup in Kenya » Our volunteers Paul, Konrad and Henning in Tansania » PlayHandball at the weltwärts conference in Kigali, Rwanda » Interview with Nicola Scholl, about her project trip to Botswana, Zimbabwe and Kenya. » Midterm Seminars in Botswana and Kenya » TYCE Holiday Activities » Friendly Tournament at the Observatory Junior School » Sophia tells about her first weeks in Kenya » 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 » Martin Berger inspires with handball in Kenya » Simon tells of his experiences as a volunteer in Juja » Lars tells of his experiences as a volunteer in Darling » Kick-off-Weekend of the Trilateral Youth Coaches Exchange » Re-launch of the Weltwärts Volunteer Program in Kenya and South Africa. » Community Talk with Mike from Pendo Amani in Juja, Kenya » Handball is growing in Kisumu County – 17 teams at first county tournament in by EmpowerGirlsPlus » Community Talk with Louise Barends from Darling Outreach Foundation in South Africa » Play Handball Corona Aid helps over 1000 people in South Africa and Kenya. » Update PHKE: In every challenge there is always something we can do as a sport for development organisation » 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 » German Handball Stars are so polite – Kenian Play Handball Coordinator travels to Germany » 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 » Karibu Kenya! Play Handball Supercup in Kisumu » Handball for UNSDG13 Climate Action – Workshop & Clean-Up » 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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