Hundreds of Mitchell’s Plain pupils are now attending class in smart new school shoes, thanks to the efforts of a sports coach who grew up in the area.
Frank Steyn, who is the general manager for Run4Schools South Africa, a foundation that runs in-school and after-school programmes in music, dance and sports, ran the 56km Two Oceans Ultra Marathon in April wearing a pair of school shoes and managed to raise R66 402.
Two hundred and fifty pupils at Northwood Primary School in Woodlands received their brand-new school shoes on Friday October 11.
The foundation also donated 200 pairs of shoes to Alpine Primary School, 200 to Tafelsig Primary School and 120 to Westridge High School.
Mr Steyn, 32, now lives in Eerste River but grew up in Woodlands and Colorado Park and also attended Northwood Primary School.
“I grew up in this community and ran the stoeps at school, I also played in my school shoes as a young boy. I know the circumstances some children may face at home, not being able to buy new shoes or having to pass them down to family members, and that’s what drove me to run this race for them,” he said.
Mr Steyn said raising the money was not easy and his initial target was R10 000. This was boosted when he went to the Netherlands for work this year and shared his story with those he met. They came on board and donated funds towards his vision, he said.
Northwood Primary School principal Leon Jones said Mr Steyn was his top athlete when he was the sports manager at the school.
He is very proud of Mr Steyn for going the extra mile to help young people. “Sometimes it is not always a good feeling to come to school without shoes, but Mr Steyn helped so many with his kind gesture. The school appreciates him,” he said.
Northwood pupil Timna Sigonya, 14, from Heinz Park, said he is grateful and thankful to coach Frank for offering the school shoes. “He is my role model, and I want to be a pilot one day,” he said.
Another Northwood pupil, Nabeelah Davids, 10, from Rondevlei, said she is very happy about her new school shoes.
The ultra marathon was no easy feat for Mr Steyn and he started wondering if he would make it when he reached Ou Kaapse Weg. The downhill run was torturous in the school shoes.
“A lot of people were at the finish line. When I took my shoes off, I saw my toenails on my fourth toe and pinky toe had come off on my left foot,” he said.
It took him about four days to recover but Mr Steyn was happy to have completed his mission. “When you wear these school shoes, where it with pride, you know what you need to strive for. We love you and we’re proud of all of you,” said Mr Steyn to the pupils.