Two young men from Mitchell’s Plain are keeping Springbok rugby family members active with virtual martial arts and jiu-jitsu sessions.
Both coaches Isaac Zantoto, 19, from Beacon Valley, and Cole Brooks, 21, who is formerly from Bayview but now lives in Greyton, were introduced to controlled combat fighting programmes offered to troubled pupils at Mitchell’s Plain School of Skills, in Rocklands, by non-profit organisation Bom Combat.
The community-based organisation co-founded by Laureen Gerhardt, from Lentegeur, and her husband Martin Gerry, from Germany, were contracted to keep the SA rugby families active during the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa, ending Saturday August 7 – as sponsored by the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation.
The wives and children of Springbok rugby players like captain Siyamthanda Kolisi as well as wing and full back player Cheslin Kolbe are in a “bubble”, based in hotels, to keep safe from the coronavirus, but keep fit with these online training sessions.
Isaac said it has been an honour and privilege to train them.
He said training sessions via Zoom online meeting sessions were different from teaching children face-to-face the art of movement, exercising and burning energy constructively.
“I use a cellphone to teach the family members via social media and cannot show them exact pointers or correct them,” he said.
“I’ve had to use different techniques to get my information across and adapt training sessions according to their abilities,” he said.
During his final year at school in 2020, Isaac was able to join the Bom Combat programme, which aims to tackle the causes of violence in young adolescents by channelling strong emotions into proactive and pro-social behaviour through the teachings of martial arts in practice and philosophy.
He had three-months of hands-on, face-to-face training after which he trained at home, in the evening after work to keep fit and develop his skill as a martial arts coach as well as pursue a career in fighting.
Isaac is harnessing his skills as a fighter and hopes to compete in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in America.
He is a trainer at Estrategia Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, in Kenilworth, an organisation that encourages young men and women to participate in martial arts and is in the process of starting up a co-operative called Cocowa Clothing.
Isaac trains youth in Beacon Valley and tries to incorporate the lessons learned from his martial arts training into his daily life.
Cole told the Plainsman he would like to establish a venue for youth in Greyton to be trained the way he was at the Rocklands school.
“I was an aggressive, an angry person and solved most of my problems with violence but since being on the programme with Bom Combat, from age 14, I’ve been able to release this excess energy and pent up frustration in the cage or in the ring, which has been life changing for me,” he said.
He used to do two-hour sessions at the school, which he enjoyed and which eventually became a more important part of his life.
“I don’t make a lot of money but I am passionate about the sport, which I would like to share with youth,” he said.
Cole said it had been his saving grace and that youth should know that there are good people to look up to.
“I want to give the best to the children in my community because people wanted the best for me when I was younger,” he said.
He said in general he saw a lot of people die on the streets of Mitchell’s Plain and that he wanted to make a difference in children’s lives.
He was born in Lentegeur, raised in Greyton, lived in Bayview while at the school of skills and is now living and working on a Bom Combat programme in Greyton.
Ms Gerhardt said she had always wanted to make a difference in her community.
“Martial arts is deeply rooted in an inclusive and essential respect for one another, which is what we ultimately want to foster in our modern society and in our communities,” she said.
Ms Gerhardt said they were proud of their coaches and alumni of the School of Skills, who had become virtual trainers and role models for the youth in their community.