Youth Fit Africa (YFA) is a new online magazine with a focus on giving young Africans valuable tips and information on sports, fitness, health and nutrition.
The initiative was launched over the weekend of 12 and 13 May with a basketball tournament for 12 under-19 teams, both male and female. The event took place at Sacred Heart College, a school for boys and girls in Observatory, east of Johannesburg, and over 350 supporters and basketball enthusiasts came along to cheer for their favourites over the two-day period.
YFA is driven by Community Media for Development (CMFD), a Johannesburg-based communications company that specialises in using media for social change. The company is encouraging more and more young people to become more physically active in a world where obesity is starting to run wild.
“Kicking off with the website, we intend to expand to other multimedia, such as print and radio, sometime in the future,” said CMFD founder and director Deborah Walter.
“Youth Fit Africa is really about improving the information flow,” Walter added. “While we often hear about the negative sides of youth culture in the media, YFA features profiles and stories about young people who are active in their sports and communities, which will inspire other young people through positive role models.”
Walter cites Ashwin Willemse, former Springbok and wing for the Gauteng-based Lions rugby team, as such a role model and an example of how sport can lift a person out of challenging circumstances and allow them to be the best they can be.
”The YFA online magazine has practical information and is a chance for youth to get media coverage they don’t get in the mainstream, so they can motivate each other,” said project coordinator and basketball coach Onyebuchi Onyejieke.
YFA also aims to breaks through gender barriers, and highlight the achievement of girls in sport.
And it’s not limited to South Africans – contributions have been accepted from Zambia, Nigeria, Lesotho and other African countries.
Many are personal stories of overcoming challenges and triumphing against the odds, but there’s plenty of practical information on improving technique, coping with stress, or eating well, and the event section is not just for competitors, but spectators too.
Getting young Africans moving
Much of the YFA content is produced by student journalists and the youngsters themselves.
However, it’s not just young people who’ll benefit from YFA – those looking to improve their fitness, as well as trainers and coaches will gain from the nutritional information, fitness hints and tips, information on upcoming events, motivational stories, and profiles of young sportsmen and women.
Team sports help youngsters by giving them the tools and opportunities to build social skills, and grow physically and emotionally, as well as socially by using peer interaction.
By letting children as young as five develop an interest in sports, it allows them to be more socially ready for the more challenging years later on. It also allows them to see their stronger skills and to see the advantages that come with cooperation and friendship.
Best of the best
The YFA launch weekend was made even better by trophies, medals and prizes for fitness competitions, slam-dunk contests, raffles and shoot-outs, thanks to sponsors Swoosh, NBA Africa, PVM Nutritional Sciences and Umoja.
Both the girls’ and boys’ sections were won convincingly by the Predator team, whose boys’ side crushed Pretoria Elite by 50-33, while the girls defeated Michael Mount with a tight score of 24-21, giving the Predators the tournament. To cap a successful weekend, Ashanti Thabethe from the Predators boys and his female counterpart Lindiwe Shabangu were named the highest scorers of the final game.
On the defensive side, Brially Klaasen of Predators boys and Dania Lunnemann of the Michael Mount girls’ team walked off with the honours, and Seann Rubinek of Predators and Mpumi Ramatsoga of Pretoria Elite were the best boys’ and girls’ coaches respectively.
The highest overall scorer of the tournament was Ludwig Gerdes of Pretoria Elite boys.