André and Xola, a player in the girls’ soccer team, during an afternoon of individual work.
André Mercurio was born in Portugal, schooled in Italy and is completing his Sports & Exercise Science degree in Nottingham Trent University. Through the NPO Evolve Abroad, André has been assisting MasiSports coaches with his volunteering work at Ukhanyo Primary.
“I felt very comfortable in Europe, I am looking to challenge myself and explore different personal and sporting horizons, this is why I chose such a diverse environment that is South Africa,” he said.
André explained further: “I love the contact with the children and learning their habits, behaviours, culture, environment and their engagement with sporting activities. I appreciate the opportunity of assisting the coaches in developing healthier and more aware individuals through fitness, skills and talent development and provide new life skills in settings like PE classes, soccer, cycling and athletics.”
“The kids who participate in extra-curricular sports have a more inclined excitement and discipline at discovering new things. Their enthusiasm is pushing their growth as individuals, different to those that are not as active.”
“I wish to further research on the children’ nutrition and its effects on their sports. It is visible the lack of knowledge and proper nutrition that hampers their energy and growth into sports. In collaboration with another association already tackling the nutritional issues it is possible to further create more solutions.”
“The school facilities,” he continues, “create a positive environment for growth, the children are fortunate to have such facilities, equipment, different sports and such a caring staff. The coaching styles are very different between Europe and the townships over here, through discussion with the coaches a hybrid coaching style emerged, focusing on physical & fitness training and continuing developing specific sports skills and match practices.”
The coaches say that André has brought a new energy into Ukhanyo. Great to have you André!