The national canoeing community is responding to an appeal from the Paarl Canoe Club to support its growing development programme and to realise the dreams of fourteen paddlers to compete in the Berg River Canoe Marathon in July.
The Paarl Club Development Programme with Oasis NPC uses canoeing as a tool to teach children from disadvantaged backgrounds the importance of discipline, hard work and determination. As part of a greater team, whilst still being an individual sport, paddlers learn the importance of applying their physical strength, mental agility, and endurance as they compete in races. The Paarl development programme currently has 30 young paddlers on the water every day.
Having produced successful racers like Ryno Armdorf, Luke Stowman, Jermaine Pietersen and Niklas Tiras, the club, based at Market Street bridge in the centre of Paarl, has attracted a growing number of local youngsters to the club’s development arm run by Wayne August, with more than thirty eager paddlers taking to the water daily.
“By coming down to the programme, the youngsters get to feel that they are part of a team, and paddling helps to keep them out of trouble. They learn discipline and how to support each other. If they learn to work hard at sport, they can apply that to their schoolwork as well,” said August.
With stars like Stowman, Pietersen and Tiras getting national recognition, August says many of the younger paddler aspire to emulate them, starting off by striving to complete the tough 240 km Berg River Canoe Marathon from their hometown to the West Coast town of Velddrif.
“It’s never easy. The challenge motivates me to keep going and do better. I am grateful to be able to compete and to have gotten my start at the development club,” he added.