Volunteer OverseasVolunteer Overseas

Volunteer as a Physical Education Teacher in South Africa

  • ROLE: To encourage and develop a sporting initiative in order to improve their fitness and working as a team in the townships
  • CLASS SIZE: 5-40
  • ACCOMMODATION: Host family
  • LENGTH OF PLACEMENT: From 2 weeks
  • START DATES: Flexible

Children growing up in the townships of Cape Town have few facilities for stimulating sports. Opportunities are severely limited for both playing sports and learning new ones, despite the best efforts of local volunteers and community leaders. Parents are desperate to keep their kids off the streets when school gets out to keep them away from drug usage and peer pressure.

Giving their children the opportunity to participate in sports allows them to learn important lessons in working as a team, anger management and prioritizing a healthy lifestyle.

Volunteer sports coach instructing children at a school in South Africa

Volunteers can help create a sporting environment and provide much needed support to local staff. Many schools within the townships are open to after school activities, including basketball, soccer, softball, cricket, rugby – almost every sport you can think of is going on somewhere!

As a volunteer, your initiative and enthusiasm can always be put to good use by helping develop sports initiatives and programs in Cape Town. In order for children to get the most out of sports lessons as well as after school clubs, they need to be well thought out with lots of good ideas for lesson plans to get the kids thinking, working as a team, and improving their fitness while having fun.

Teaching Physical Education in Schools in Cape Town with Projects Abroad

Cape Town has a wide variety of schools whose facilities and demographic largely mirrors the wealth and background of the areas in which they are based. Projects Abroad volunteers center their efforts on the Cape Flats Townships, working with underprivileged communities in the Parkwood, Seawinds, and Steenberg area. 

The schools here are all government run and physical education has regrettably been removed from the curriculum due to budget cutbacks. Government funded schools no longer offer this subject because they cannot afford to pay a sports teacher out of their own small budget. For this reason, volunteers are invaluable to these schools as they can provide the important physical education lessons without the extra costs.

Kids at a school in South Africa jump rope with volunteer coaches

As a Projects Abroad volunteer in South Africa, you don’t need previous coaching experience, but you will need a real passion for sports and the drive and initiative to lead a sports session with a group of children without always having the backup of another teacher. Volunteers will often coach together and have the full support of the teaching staff, though both human and material resources are in short supply.

Don’t worry if you don’t have UEFA–grade soccer coaching skills or aren’t an Olympic athlete – simply organizing a game of soccer or running races can help these children improve their fitness levels or ability to work as a team. The program could also combine elements of physical education with other aspects of health, such as nutrition and personal hygiene. You’ve got an almost completely blank canvas and a captive audience of children eager to get involved!

At the end of the school day, Physical Education volunteers get involved with afterschool activities that run in the afternoons from 3-5pm. Many community leaders and schools themselves are eager to have volunteers help out with their after school clubs. These present a real challenge for coaches with anywhere from 5 to 30 kids turning up each day with hugely varied skill levels and little regularity. The one thing the children all share is a love for sports and a desire to get involved. Whatever your particular sport may be, by helping keep these clubs going, you’ll be making a real contribution.

If you have experience or interest in watersports, you also can volunteer on our Surfing Project in South Africa.

All our Sports projects in South Africa require volunteers to dedicate a full day to their placement. It is not possible to mix and match School Sports with Surfing or Teaching projects at the same time.

Volunteer Profile Volunteer Melissa K. shares her review from the Sports project in South Africa
Melissa K.
I organized what in America would be the equivalent of a gym class. Prior to my arrival the only athletic experience the students had was running; mainly around pieces of trash that were utilized as cones. My experience with Projects Abroad was life changing and I am forever grateful for the opportunity I was given. Read more...

This project is available for less than a month if you don't have time to join us for a month or more. This project has been selected by our local colleagues as being suitable for shorter durations for both the host community and the volunteer. Although you will gain valuable cultural insight and work intensely within the local community please be aware that you may not be able to make the same impact as someone participating for a longer period. Volunteers staying for less than a month may be paired with a longer-term volunteer.

While you’re in South Africa, you might also consider joining a 1 week Conservation & Environment Project. For more information, please visit our African Bushveld Conservation & Environment Project in South Africa page. Our Combinations Page explains how you can combine not only projects, but also destinations.

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