Setting the right foundations for 2023
January 23, 2023

26 CoolPlay Champions completed three days of intense learning in the hall of Walmer Estate from 16-18 January ahead of the start of term one.  The committed crew made their way from all areas of the Western Cape. Some returning to sharpen their CoolPlay coaching skills and some meeting the CoolPlay Way for the first time.

The beauty of the space CoolPlay works in – being personal development of Champions and children alike, means that no one can ever say that they know it all. Developing the skills required to coach children and young people through life on and off the sports field requires the adult to have a firm grasp of their own emotions, strengths, and weaknesses, and being equipped with skills and techniques that can be used when providing guidance and support to the children in their care.


“Personal development – the never-ending chance to improve not only yourself, but also to attract opportunities and affect others.”

– Jim Rohn


Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)

Debbie Gray from SEL South Africa (SELSA) took the group through the 6 basic SEL concepts that are recognised across the CoolPlay Way.

They include:

  • Self-Awareness
  • Self- Management
  • Social Awareness
  • Relationship Skills
  • Responsible Decision Making
  • Optimistic Thinking and a Growth Mindset

This theoretical outline broke down the broad skills that the Champions are instilling into the children in their squads on a weekly basis. This set the foundations for day two, where the specific CoolPlay curriculum was covered in great detail.

Founding board member – Barry O’Mahony addressing Champs


“I learned about the importance of goal directed behaviour. How we need to identify our emotions and choose how we react to them. I see how it is important to self-regulate in order to achieve our goals.”
– Champion Siphenathi from Khayelitsha


“It was interesting to learn how the SEL competencies can be applied in various ways in every circumstance, it is truly universal.”
– Champion Lourenzo from Cloetesville


“I now understand the need to coach with empathy and teach my learners about their own emotions.”
– Champion Teddy from Masiphumelele

The CoolPlay Way

Champions learning to address SEL concepts on the sports field from Debbie Gray

Day two focused on the delivery of SEL through the CoolPlay Way. Staged scenarios were played out with Champions tasked with the tough job of delivering meaningful SEL conversations within (staged) situations that also require crowd control and mediation – much like the real world.

Phile, a Champion from Masiphumele had her work cut out for her, as fellow Champions who were acting as participants were disrupting the class. The staged chaos helped her practice the art of gaining a group’s attention (with a quick war cry) and bringing the group in to a discussion about team values which they can all hold each other accountable to.

Coach Janice who is an experience CoolPlay Champion said the training challenged her and she was grateful to Debbie for providing “tough love” with the intention of building great and impactful Champions.

Child Protection

Day three called on various speakers, including Brandon Scanlen who is a qualified social worker and the CoolPlay South Peninsula Area Manager. He explained the Child Protection policy and the procedures in place should any safeguarding issues be recognised.

Sport as a mechanism to promote gender equity/equality

Fabio Sedeman is studying his master’s in Public Sociology at Stellenbosch University. He volunteered his time to host the important conversations around gender and how sport can be used as a vehicle to promote gender equity/equality. His presentation challenged the gender stereotypes prevalent in the disadvantaged communities where CoolPlay works – something that Champions are familiar with addressing in coaching card No. 8, yet Fabio emphasised the role of CoolPlay Champions in setting good examples for the children in their care in pursuit of gender equality within their own communities.

Learnings from Champions:


“I learned the important role that gender plays in our society and how is shapes of our social identity.”
– Champion Chenay from Kuilriver


“Gender is a role that you play and not who you are, and your gender should not define who you are.”
– Champion Marvin from Northern Suburbs

A life committed to Development

Jill Benting is the Youth Empowerment through Sport Programme and Grant Manager at Laureus Sport for Good. She took to the stage to share her personal story of growing up through adversity and her journey to where she is today. Her inspiring message encouraged Champions to support one another, to set and share their goals and to look further than their current environments to a world where they can achieve anything.

Under Armour – Returning partners for 2023

The training was wrapped up by the generous delivery of the 2023 CoolPlay kit by Under Armour’s Xabiso Godongwana who extending the brand’s commitment to CoolPlay in 2023.

CoolPlay kitted in Under Armour for 2023