'We want to have kids representing us nationally' - Run Alex to use Absa RYC R125k for development
If you have happen to be in Alexandra Township on a Saturday morning and decide to go for a speed session at the Kwa Bhekilanga sports grounds, then be prepared to be inspired. That's because every Saturday morning over sixty youngsters are to be found sprinting around the track as part of an athletics development programme pioneered by a group called Run Alex. What started out as a long run training group has grown into a fully fledged running club affiliated to Central Gauteng Athletics (CGA) with ambitions of producing the next generation of top runners.
"I first came to Run Alex when this group was just a month old. I was just invited to come and run," shared Ronnie Ndlovu. "I was coming from RunZone then I came here to visit, then I saw a gap. I saw that they don't stretch before and after their runs. Then I decided that this is my community and I'm good at that. Then it grew and we registered as a club. But before we registered I thought we've got these seniors who are running but why don't we have the young ones joining us - the parents coming with their own kids to come and run with us. That's how the idea was born."
That realization saw Ndlovu go on to become the club's official coach as their development squad grew from just one boy to over sixty youngsters that now participate in various CGA competitions from track to cross country. In recognition of their growth and contribution to the sport Run Alex were last week gifted with a donation of R125 000 from Absa as part of their Run Your City campaign. The pan-African banking giant donated R1 for every kilometre that was run or walked by Team Absa members on Strava on the day of the Absa RUN YOUR CITY JOBURG 10k which took place on 24 September.
"The biggest purpose in this whole thing is to connect with communities," said Absa's Group Head for SME Business Ronnie Mbatsane. "And by doing so we also partnered with the various cities - in this case the City of Joburg to clean the city for example. So it's not just about the day of the race, it's about the practice that we want to put back into society for us to be responsible citizens - so we are injecting that practice using the RUN YOUR CITY as an approach," he explained.
For Ndlovu and the rest of the Run Alex members, the cash injection comes as a timely boost which will be used to transport the kids to athletic competitions around the province while making sure that they are well nourished and clothed. The man who started out his sporting journey as a footballer in Alex almost four decades ago sees their burgeoning running club as an opportunity to positively impact on a place that is better known for violence than it is
"Now that I'm into the development side things, I think in five years time if we can have maybe five plus kids representing us nationally and then eventually internationally, that would make me happy. We are going to take it one step at a time," he smiled. If you want to be part of the 2023 Absa RUN YOUR CITY Series which will now also include Gqeberha and Tshwane then click HERE to enter the race and your run/walk could go towards uplifting a local running club in your city.