Ground-breaking athletics bursary programme for Stellenbosch

 Athletics Foundation Trust (AFT) launches Stellenbosch Athletics Bursary programme with Endurocad – Zola Budd joins training team

A unique athletics bursary programme, in conjunction with Stellenbosch High School has just been launched in Stellenbosch.

The Athletics Foundation Trust (AFT) announced the launch of its Stellenbosch Athletics Bursary Programme in partnership with Endurocad and Stellenbosch High School.

Nine years ago, the AFT created a unique development programme to make a real difference in South Africa through education and athletics. The Trust’s generous sponsorship of bursaries into the TuksSport High School have undoubtedly impacted on the South African and World Athletics scene from 2014 to 2021 with phenomenal success at the recent World u.20 Championships in Nairobi, Kenya. Over the years they have sponsored more than 200 bursaries and are expanding their footprint to the Western Cape.

The Stellenbosch Athletics Bursary Programme will be an expansion of the national athletics bursary programme. The programme will kick off in 2022 with the immediate goal to identify 15 talented athletes (gr. 8-10 in 2022) from underdeveloped areas where there are few resources or opportunities to develop their athletic and academic abilities. These young athletes will achieve an all-round education by attending Stellenbosch High School and be trained by the world class coaches in Stellenbosch.

“No sports career lasts forever. We want young athletes to realize that not everyone is going to become a professional athlete, so education is viewed as equally important,” says Rose Juby, AFT National Programme Manager.

The AFT has appointed Endurocad to manage the programme, in partnership with Stellenbosch High School, Athletes Academy (Club) and Stellenbosch Academy of Sport. The school has a 400m grass athletics track and a pole vault academy.

It is located next to the Jan Marais nature reserve with a beautiful path that runs through it.

Endurocad, a non-profit, is managed by Olympic silver medallist Elana van Zyl-Meyer and Janet Welham, who over the last 8 years have developed young athletes with focus on their overall development including career, personal and athletics development.

“We are delighted to use the skills we developed with Endurocad to support the AFT to achieve their worthy objectives of producing world class athletes. Our aim is to identify and develop the abundance of raw talent in our communities and provide them with support and skills to achieve their full potential,” Meyer Endurocad director, said.  

Theo Pellissier, Principal of Stellenbosch High School adds, “We are very excited to host the inaugural group of athletes at our school. Stellenbosch High School is uniquely positioned for this initiative as it not only boasts the necessary amenities, it is also renowned for its welcoming culture and the personal touch. It has a long history of attracting learners from the furthest corners of the Western and the Northern Cape and beyond”

Supporting Van Zyl-Meyer will be Nolene Conrad as the athletes’ manager of the Stellenbosch Athletics Bursary Programme. She will be overseeing the everyday running of the programme and the athletes. Her vast experience as a high-performance athlete, teaching and coaching will offer an incredible opportunity for the bursary athletes.

The coaching staff will be world class with legendary Zola Budd joining the Endurocad team and heading up the high school middle distance coaching portfolio. Budd will be supported by other specialist coaches, including pole vault specialist JP van As.

The programme will be effective from January 2022 and athletes who wish to apply must fall within the following parameters:

  • Athletes (gr.8-10 in 2022) from the greater Western Cape, Northern Cape, Southern Cape and Free State.
  • Please note that schooling will be conducted in the teaching medium of Afrikaans at the Stellenbosch High School.
  • The programme will focus on the following athletics disciplines:
    • Sprints
    • Middle distance
    • Cross country
    • Pole vault
    • Race walking.

The programme will be implemented by a strong team within Endurocad and other specialist coaches.

The Stellenbosch Athletics Bursary will be sponsored by AFT and the full bursaries will cover:

  • School fees
  • Books and stationery
  • School uniforms
  • Residence fees
  • Athletics coaching
  • Sport psychology
  • Sport nutrition
  • Sports science testing

Bursaries are awarded in 3 categories depending on overall household income. Full, partial and sports bursaries will be awarded. Bursaries are awarded considering a range of factors including athletic potential, socio-economic circumstances, age, academic achievement and potential, attitudes, values and mental habits and means test.

About the Athletics Foundation Trust

The Trust’s vision is to identify talented young athletes from all over South Africa and enable them to receive a holistic education while at the same time develop their athletic potential.  The Trust supports high school learners who are primarily, but not exclusively from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Hardly a year has passed since 2014 in which one or more of the Trust’s sponsored athletes have not made media headlines. There have been World Champions, Olympians and numerous record breakers. Three of the Trust’s former athletes lined up for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

At the Rio Olympics in 2016, Clarence Munyai and Gift Leotlela became the youngest male track and field athletes representing South Africa. At the time they were 18-year-old Trust sponsored learners at TuksSport High School.

Munyai set the SA senior 200m-record in 2018 when he clocked 19.69. This still ranks him 11th on the World Athletics all-time list. In 2019 he was part of the SA 4x100m-relay team that set a new Africa and SA record at the World Championships in Doha running 37.65 in the heats.

Leotlela won a silver in the 200m during the world u.20 Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland. In 2017 he set a SA Junior record running 10.12 over 100 metres.

Sokwakhana Zazini got everyone talking when he won gold in the 400m-hurdles during the 2017 World Athletics u.18 championships. A year later in Tampere, Finland he again won gold at the World u.20 championships. In 2019 he won silver at the World Student Games in Napoli, Italy. He qualified for the 400m-hurdles final in Tokyo.

In 2019, Sinesipho Dambile competed in the IAAF World Relay Championships in the 200m relay in Japan, where the SA team won Silver.

At the recent World Athletics u.20 Championships held in Nairobi Kenya, the South African 4 x 100m relay team won gold in a World Record time of 38.51. The team included Dambile, as well as Benjamin Richardson and Mihlali Xoyeni, both current learners at TuksSport High School.

Prudence Sekgodiso is one of the rising stars of South African women’s athletics. Last year she won the 800 metres in 2:02.16. Those in the know predict that she could become only the fifth South African female athlete to dip under two minutes over 800 metres. Since 2016 she has improved her 800m time by more than eight seconds.

From day one, the Trust’s vision has been to unearth talented young athletes, mostly from far-off rural areas all over the country, who would not otherwise have had an opportunity, and help them become champions. But not on the track alone. The Trust partnered with TuksSport High School to ensure that every sponsored athlete can access a solid high school education. “The expansion of the AFT footprint to the South means that the Trust can now offer bursaries to athletes at two centres of excellence – so it is an exciting development for young aspiring athletes in South Africa,” says Rose Juby, AFT National Programme Manager.

Benjamin Richardson bagged two medals, one silver and one gold, and broke a 4x100m relay world record at the recent World Athletics u.20 World Championships in Nairobi, Kenya. He grew up in Nelspruit and he attended Nelspruit Primary School where he started his athletics journey. The 17-year-old, sprint sensation joined TuksSport High School in 2020 and is now completing his grade 12. Photo: Roger Sedres


One Reply to “Ground-breaking athletics bursary programme for Stellenbosch”

  1. Good evening.
    I would like to put my 17year old sprinter son Marlon Hanse in for the athletic bursary.
    We stay in Stellenbosch on Eikendal wine farm on the R44 Strand road

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