Local Heroes 2022: Transforming lives on and off the field
“Boys connecting with abandoned babies in a children’s home is the heartbeat behind how this started.”
Finding a deeper cause behind the thrill of the win, Selborne teacher and sports coach Jono Kruger, 40, from Beacon Bay, is changing the game by merging his passion for outreach with his love for sport.
“I wanted the boys to see the world out there and somehow link sport and community development together.”
The rugby coach is one of 12 Daily Dispatch and Johnson & Johnson Local Hero winners, whose NPO Sport 4 Lives takes the platform of sport and allows young athletes to become activists by using their passion in a purposeful way for social good.
Kruger is the co-founder and director of Sport 4 Lives, a fundraising initiative and website which promotes individual and group challenges, all geared towards raising money for a cause.
He said: “This all began with the idea of taking the boys to a children’s home and really questioning their motive behind success and asking them, ‘what if you could play for something bigger, what if you could really make a difference through your sport’?”
This all began with the idea of taking the boys to a children’s home and really questioning their motive behind success and asking them, ‘what if you could play for something bigger, what if you could really make a difference through your sport’.
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.
“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.
“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 children 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 made their own campaign as part of the life orientation curriculum. We designed a project on community upliftment where they have to set up a three-hour challenge on the site and raise funds themselves.”
Kruger said the NPO worked with youth to instil a drive to change the world around them.
“One incredible example was our current headboy Bradley de Kock, who would come to me every single morning before school started and say ‘sir what else could we do for Ubuko’. He would say ‘sir, we need to do something more. What if we walked from the gates of Grey in Gqeberha to the gates of Selborne college’?”
Kruger and two Selborne pupils, De Kock, 18, and Sebastian Taylor, 17, completed a six-day 300km run from Gqeberha to East London on July 6.
“We often say you can’t do everything but you can do something and that’s what’s exciting — seeing young people take this tool and this medium of Sport 4 Lives and answering that need through the tool we’ve developed.
This year several initiatives have been launched to reach the target of R600,000 needed, with the Ubuko300 campaign raising R75,401 with 127 backers. Kruger even celebrated his birthday by running 60km for Ubuko with Monwabisi Somana, who was also celebrating his birthday.
“We often say you can’t do everything but you can do something and that’s what’s exciting — seeing young people take this tool and this medium of Sport 4 Lives and answering that need through the tool we’ve developed.”
Since its inception more than ten school communities have been involved n various campaigns and raised over R1m.
Kruger also developed the TFL Academy, which donated a piece of land for sports outreach with rugby legend Siyabonga “Tiger” Mangweni, 42, from Newlands Nxaruni.
Mangweni said: “Jono is full of energy and always pushes to make ideas happen. In many ways, sports keep children away from substance abuse and teaches them to use their talents to make life better. We want to give children the chance to use their skills to go further.”
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