LIV Village is an orphanage located north of Durban in the Cottonlands which has been home to over 150 children and mothers since 2011. The roots of the relationship between PeacePlayers and LIV Village date back to late 2015, when Nasiphi Khafu, PP-SA’s then Executive Director, had a conversation with LIV leadership about the shared values between the two organizations. Both took pride in consistently being a positive outlet in kids’ lives throughout the years, not just through a one-off event or tournament. The partnership remains intact and invaluable. Since the kids at LIV stay on-campus full time and go to school there, their operation has a unique family feel. Many PeacePlayers alumni will say PeacePlayers has the same feel. This shared feeling is one of the many things that make the partnership organic.
Menzi Ngidi calls the partnership “a blessing for both organizations on all fronts.” Menzi serves as LIV’s Head of Sport and the head basketball coach.
Menzi often feels that the partnership “enables the kids and coaches to grow together, which leads to a safe space where kids know they have the freedom to express themselves.”
LIV kids needed a structured sports league outside of the village that engaged other kids on a social level. And basketball was the perfect sport to merge the two because “you don’t need a lot of participants like you might need for rugby or soccer,” Menzi adds. All you needed were five kids, eager to play and learn together. A few young girls, in particular, have used the platform LIV provides to express themselves within PeacePlayers and beyond. Matric (final year of high school) participants Nonhle and Fathima Chiliza are star basketball players at LIV. They often display their skills around KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) amongst their peers and older professional basketball players. They have made LIV and PeacePlayers proud by earning official KZN colors and hope that this will lead to University Scholarships once they matriculate.
Two other girls from LIV Village have also shown growth during their time with PeacePlayers. Nondu Xaba and Siphesihle Sibaya (Sphe) were selected as PP-SA LDP participants in August 2019 at the Friendship Games at the University of KwaZulu-Natal Howard College, for the exceptional leadership skills and growth displayed in the programme. They both have recently matriculated from LIV with high marks. Menzi is proud of all these girls. He says their “maturity, mentality and social confidence has skyrocketed.”
Nondu is now in her first year at Free State University. There she plays Varsity basketball and studies social science, majoring in psychology. When she reflects on her PeacePlayers experience, she is thankful that she was “able to meet new children and make friends from different backgrounds and racial groups. I learned that it’s not only about being good and able to play sports, but it’s also about sportsmanship and hard work [off the court].” She adds that one
of her favorite things about the group was “seeing a collective team wanting to bring change in their community together as a family.”
Sphe is interning with an organization’s photography and film department. When Sphe reflects on her PeacePlayers journey, she says, “PeacePlayers SA didn’t just teach me basketball skills, but also how to make good life choices and decisions.” Like Nondu, Sphe also originally believed that being a part of PP-SA was only about having good basketball skills, only to find out it was much more.
For all four girls mentioned – Fathima, Nonhle, Nondu, and Sphe – PeacePlayers has enhanced their LIV experience. Menzi acknowledges that LIV is generally a closed-quarters campus, and it’s rare that the kids engage with other kids outside of the grounds. But when they do, it should be a fruitful experience. “If they aren’t mature socially, it impacts their self-esteem and confidence.” says Menzi. These young women are now equipped with the necessary skills to thrive in the world.
The organic relationship will continue to flourish with great mentors like Menzi in the driver’s seat, simply because, as Menzi puts it, “both organizations and representatives refuse to stop finding ways to engage with participants consistently.” Working in tandem, PeacePlayers and LIV Village will continue being a bright light in participants’ lives.