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Transforming lives on and off the field

Local Hero nominee Jono Kruger leads the group of supports to the finish line of the UBUKO300 run where the Selborne teacher and two pupils ran 300km from Gqeberha to the Selborne gates in six days to raise funds for fellow Selbornian Ubuko Mpotulo.
Local Hero nominee Jono Kruger leads the group of supports to the finish line of the UBUKO300 run where the Selborne teacher and two pupils ran 300km from Gqeberha to the Selborne gates in six days to raise funds for fellow Selbornian Ubuko Mpotulo.
Image: RANDELL ROSKRUGE

“Our country needs leaders. We can’t fix everything, but we can do something.” 

Local Hero nominee and Selborne teacher Jono Kruger, 40, from Beacon Bay, is changing the game by merging his passion for outreach with his love for sport.

He is co-founder and director of the NPO Sport 4 Lives, a fundraising initiative and website which promotes individual and group challenges, all geared towards raising money for a social cause. 

“My best mate Chris Kingsley and I started Sport 4 Lives as the umbrella body which covers a variety of sports fundraisers, such as Ride for Lives, Walk for Lives and Tries for Lives,” Kruger said. 

Kruger, who has been a coach for nearly 20 years, started the Tries For Lives wing of the NPO in 2016 with the Selborne U16 rugby team and nurtured a love of outreach in the students and the game.

I don’t think the privileged know what poverty looks like

“I don’t think the privileged know what poverty looks like,” he said.

“When I was a grade 10 pupil at Selborne we were taken to Duncan Village to play sports and spend time with the kids there.

“When I got home to wash my hands, which were covered in dirt from playing, I realised my own privilege, that I had running water and a safe home.

“I saw myself in these young athletes, I wanted to show them that sometimes we grow up in a bubble.” 

This year, Kruger has been co-ordinating a mass fundraising campaign with various Selborne sports teams to help grade 8 pupil Ubuko Mpotulo,14, who lost both legs and several fingers after contracting viral meningitis when he was three.

“We have tackled the Ubuko Initiative from different angles.

“This year the grade 11s will make their own campaign as part of the life orientation curriculum.

We have designed a project on community upliftment where they have to set up a three-hour challenge on the site and raise funds themselves

“We have designed a project on community upliftment where they have to set up a three-hour challenge on the site and raise funds themselves.”

Kruger and two Selborne pupils, head boy Bradley de Kock, 18, and Sebastian Taylor, 17, completed a six-day 300km run from Gqeberha to East London on Wednesday July 6. 

At the time of going to print, the campaign, known as Ubuko300, had raised R65,001.

Kruger has also developed the TFL Academy, which donated a piece of land for sports outreach with rugby legend Siyabonga “Tiger” Mangweni, 42, from Newlands Nxaruni. 

The former Border Bulldog teammates started the Field of Dreams where they hope to host the Tiger Festival sports tournament in October. 

Kruger said: “We want to run as a multifunctional facility and build a hall where we can set up a rugby school in the future.

We want to introduce the haves to the have-nots

“We want to introduce the haves to the have-nots.

“Together we can effect change.”

Mangweni said: “Jono is full of energy and always pushes to make ideas happen.

“In many ways, sports keep kids away from substance abuse and teaches them to use their talents to make life better.

“I knew I had to give back to my community with rugby, and we want to give kids the chance to use their skills to go further.”

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