'If I can see one kid smiling I'm fulfilled' - Caster Semenya Foundation raises funds for youth
Given the challenging path that she has had to traverse on her journey from rural Limpopo to the pinnacle of the sport, Caster Semenya may be forgiven if she decided that she'd had enough. But the double Olympic Champion says even though she may no longer be eligible to race her beloved 800m, it doesn't mean that she has fallen out of love with athletics. In fact the woman who announced herself to the world when she won the 800m world title as a 19-year-old in 2009 says what motivates her even more these days is the work she does through The Caster Semenya Foundation to develop future champions.
"The Foundation was established back then in 2009 but it was registered in 2017. All along I've been running it from my own pocket because I love what I do and I love empowering the youth. Under the Caster Semenya Foundation we have different sections. We have Masai Athletic Club, we adopt kids and we go into the communities and do work like donating sanitary towels or donating school shoes and school uniforms and stationery."
The Cobra was speaking at The Fun Company at the Fourways Mall north of Johannesburg last week during an event hosted by her foundation in conjunction with its sponsors. The likes of Discovery, Nike and The Watch Boutique all took part in an evening of ten-pin bowling where funds were donated to the foundation. The money collected goes towards assisting the multiple SA Champion to unearth the running stars of tomorrow.
"We run development programmes under Masai Athletic Club which has three branches in Limpopo, Athletics Gauteng North and Central Gauteng Athletics. We have almost one hundred members - mostly kids and a few elite athletes. We have the residential programme where we provide them with accommodation, we provide them with meals and give them bursaries.
Thanks to the Masai Athletic Club which is powered by the Caster Semenya Foundation, some promising youngsters have been discovered, coached and represented their provinces at junior, youth and sub-youth national level. Semenya thanked all of her commercial partners admitting that the costs of transporting, feeding, coaching and housing scores of talented youngsters can become onerous without financial and technical support.
"Obviously it's not easy work to do because you gotta have the Benjamins. But with the love that we have for kids we believe that going back to the disadvantaged background that I'm coming from must be done. I have to plough back. With the help of Nike, Discovery and everyone who's here it's possible if we join hands and make sure that those kids can smile. I always say that if I can see one kid smiling I'm fulfilled. With what I've endured I always say it's possible if you believe."