Within seconds of walking into the room where the 14 members of the Bashise Ndlondlo Grow Great Champions (GGC) club are sitting, one can almost sense the spirit of togetherness in the air. All wearing their GGC T-shirts, their faces beam with pride as they explain how the club got its name.

“Our coach’s surname is Msibi. His clan name is Msibi Ndlondlo-Bashise, and that is what we named our club after,” says Sheila Khoza.

Despite coach Vusi Msibi being younger than a lot of his club members, they speak fondly of him and say he is among their biggest motivators.

“He treats us well and works well with us even though he is younger than most of us. He also provides regular training for us.”

In 2018, The club was the best performing in the Mpumalanga region. The achievement saw all the club members – and their coach – travelling to Johannesburg for the first time and winning prizes such as cellphones.

“We were very excited, we worked hard to win the prize. We were surprised that we had won because we knew that other clubs had been working hard as well,” says Khoza.

“Travelling from Mpumalanga to Gauteng on the InterCape was an experience we’ll never forget as it was the first time for all of us. We also liked the place we got to stay at, Sunnyside Hotel, and were thrilled to be at the FNB Stadium.”

They all agree that, without unity, it would have been difficult not only to be crowned the top-performing club in Nkomazi but also to see progress in their fight against stunting in Mzinti.

 “We work together as a team to achieve our goal. We solve any problem or challenge we have among ourselves. We never escalate it to the coach, unless we have no other option but to do that.”

The changes they continue to see in their community are what keep the Bashise Ndlondlo club going and despite the fact that there is only one clinic in Mzinti for the entire community, they remain optimistic that they will eradicate stunting.

“Children were previously not weighed and their height was not measured, but since joining GGC, we have been doing a lot of this.

“We now have more resources, including growth charts, and have increased our knowledge on stunting. For example, one would think that a child being chubbier than normal is a sign of good health, but we now know that this is not necessarily the case.

“GGC has made life better for the children in our community. We are confident that by 2030, there will no longer be any stunted children in our community.”

“We make sure the moms in our community live the healthiest lives possible. We advise them to get screened for pregnancy and, if they are pregnant, to avoid drugs and alcohol, eat right and rest enough.

“We also warn them of any danger signs and remind them to take their medication frequently.”

The club’s goals for 2019 include ensuring that there is “no stunting in our community” and to retain their title as Mpumalanga’s best club. Their advice to clubs who aspire to achieve what they did is simple: “Be united; being one makes the work easier.”

*This article is from the first edition [2019] of our On The Field CHW magazine.