Meet the Match
South African Sports Administrator Brings Hope to Girls
Zola Ndlovu was born into a segregated South Africa. As a young black girl growing up under the apartheid, life was not easy. Poverty and lack of opportunities were just a few of the challenges. “Fortunately for me, I was able to attend a better school – a white school – where I was given the encouragement and opportunities to play sports. Parents are not really supportive in Black African communities. But because I went to a mixed school, the teachers were really supportive and they encouraged me to follow my dreams in the sports field. Sports became a part of me, more than just a routine. They are my passion.”
Zola’s love for sport taught her many life lessons, including discipline, leadership, and assertiveness. “In life, you have to learn how to have social relationships with people. Sport taught me how to do this. It helped me be more confident, more outspoken, and less shy. It also kept me from the temptations that so many other girls my age were facing like drugs, alcohol abuse, and teenage pregnancy. I am so thankful I had sports as a girl. And it is my duty to provide this outlet for others.”
Zola continued her education at the university where she studied sport management. Several years after graduation, Zola earned a position as Sports Officer at the Thekwini Municipality Department of Sport and Recreation Development. As the Sports Officer, Zola works with disadvantaged children from post-apartheid communities to create sport and life skills programs. She recently was selected to serve on the Women and Sport Commission and has an even greater platform now to implement change.
According to Zola, “Women in South Africa are supposed to stay at home, cook, clean, and look after the babies. Sport is not really encouraged for females. This is one of our greatest challenges – overcoming ideas about women and their place in society. We have to encourage parents to understand the benefits of sport for children. Children can learn to be responsible, to be healthy, to be active, to be disciplined, and to improve their concentration and academic performance. Participating in this program will not only benefit me. It will benefit all of South Africa.”
Through this program, Zola wants to learn how to increase female participation in sports and physical activity, how to market and promote her sports programs to girls and parents, how to partner with other NGOs, and how to secure funding from corporations. We believe Norma and the team at New Balance are an amazing fit. With their commitment to women, their global reach, and their dedication to get children moving, we think Zola’s experience will be an unforgettable one. We look forward to the ways that Zola and team New Balance will work together to promote physical activity for girls in South Africa and for the follow-on opportunities to continue their support of Zola in her mission when she returns home.