Thank you SCORE, for taking me out of my shell.

My name is Faith Sambo, 17 years old from the community of Hhoyi in Mpumalanga. My journey with SCORE began in 2009 when I was 10 years old. My aunt Nontobeko Sambo is a mentor of the Hhoyi Cup of Heroes team and is the one who introduced me to the group. I used to go with her to the field to watch them exercise. During that time I changed a lot: because I am a shy person by nature I was unable to make a lot of friends. But the more I participated in sports and the SCORE programs and experienced how to work as a team the more I got out of my shell. I slowly started making friends in the community as well as with few individuals in the team. I fell in love with sports and as a result I started going by myself to the sports field even without my aunt.

In my first year as a member of the sports team, I also wanted to go to the Cup of Heroes competition but my aunt and the team members told me that I was too young to participate. This hurt me very bad, I remember crying all the way back home and being upset for what they told me. But the following day, I told myself that I was going back to the sports field and my team was surprised to see me there because they all thought that I won’t go there again. I told myself that not being able to participate in the Cup of Heroes was not going to let me give up. Instead I was motivated to practice every day so that even the team members could see my seriousness. In 2010, the competition took place in Johannesburg and I was left behind as expected. I was happy when my team came back having won the competition even though I was able to support them during the Cup. The price that my community won was a new sports facility that was built by adidas. This actually encouraged me to go more to the practice sessions so that eventually I would also become part of our Cup of Heroes team.

Then in 2012, after a long wait and perseverance I became part of the Hhoyi Cup of Heroes team and for the first time, I went to the competition as a participant. I play netball and I love playing it very much. I am also a dancer so it excites me to dance our cultural dance in front of the audience. What encourages me the most was the energy people had, happiness was written all over their faces, and I was able to make friends from other communities which I still have even now. I learned about a lot of things including other cultures. I t was also the first time for me to travel long distance and to sleep in a hotel.

As a first timer I could not cope with everything that was happening there all at the same time but a friend of mine from Hhoyi who had attended Cup of Heroes before helped me overcome my anxiety. There was food for us that was always enough for everyone, the atmosphere was energetic and full of joy, with all 12 communities showcasing their sport skills, projects and their cultures. I told myself that I will make sure that I don’t lose the opportunity to participate in Cup of Heroes, even matric exams will not stop me from going, and I honoured that because this year I am doing matric but I did go to Pretoria to participate.

In 2013, I recruited more friends to join the team because I did not want to be seen as selfish. To my surprise they all joined but the challenge was that it was too many of them and only a certain number of participants will be selected. Those who were not selected wanted to give up but as someone who has learnt to be patient, I was able to encourage them by telling the story of my life.

Joining the SCORE program has made me a better person, I am self- motivated and am also able to motivate others. My communication skills have improved and I am also able to work in a team. I am no longer a shy girl I used to be before joining, my self- esteem has been boosted. I am now able to present in front of people, and not only in the programmes but even at school it has become easy for me to do the presentations, and this is something I could not do before.

I am very much thankful to SCORE for taking me out of my shell and to actually show me the attributes I did not know I have. I am also thankful to adidas for building a facility in Hhoyi that allows us to practice our sports and meet with our friends and teammates.