I AM DONOVAN JOHN JURGENS
PRINCIPAL FACILITATOR AND TRAINER
As ironic as it may sound, I count myself as very fortunate to have grown up under the vicious apartheid system. From a young age I was exposed to giants in the fields of development and non-racial sport. All I know today I learnt from the best leaders in the struggle for political democracy. I have experienced over many years the power of community organisations, youth and sports clubs as a valuable tool for sustainable development. The poorest of poor communities have thriving sports clubs that survive over many generations, generating their own resources. Through these organisations, communities acquire organisational management, event management, fundraising, financial management, communication, conflict resolution skills and much more. I have been part of more organizations than I can remember and I am ready to share my experience with you.
About me, where do I come from and where I wish to go…
I was born and spent my early years in a place called Lansdowne until the dreaded Group Areas Act forced my family to Manenberg for a short while and then to a place on the Cape Flats called Lotus River, where I grew up. I was schooled in Lansdowne and went on to tertiary studies at Hewat Training College where I qualified as a teacher.
As I indicate above, I was fortunate to grow up in the era of the apartheid regime. I joined the anti – apartheid struggle at a fairly young age and my involvement in various aspects of the struggle have shaped who I am today.
Through my involvement in youth development, student struggles, the anti-apartheid sports movement, civic organisations and even my hiking club I have been fortunate to gain a wealth of experience and skills. I have also developed a vast network of friends, colleagues and comrades. What I know today I learnt from those who went before me. The proverbial university of life.
What have I done ?
Through my key career opportunities, I have developed a wide variety of experience and skills, all of which I am now able to offer my clients.
After ten years of teaching, five in Hanover Park and five in Rocklands Mitchells Plain, I joined the University of Cape Town as a Senior Sports Administrator. Under the leadership of the legendary John Donald I managed numerous student sport clubs and also organized numerous national student events including Fencing, Sailing, Rowing and the highly competitive internal Football league.
I moved to join Professor Tim Noakes and former South African Rugby captain, Morne Du Plessisat the newly established Sports Science Institute of South Africa and headed up their community outreach programme. My mission was to make sports science accessible and affordable to the broader sporting community. We managed a wide variety of activities, discovered and supported young talent with sports science services. We also managed to educate and change the behavior of many coaches as far afield as George and Namaqualand. We established community based health and fitness programmes such as CHIPS (Community Health Intervention Programmes) which have survived to this very day.
Next, the NGO sector beckoned.
I joined the NGO Sports Coaches Outreach (SCORE) first as a Board Member, then Director of Programmes and then later an Executive Director. I headed up the Integrated Community Sports Programme, a project funded by the European Union. Through this project we constructed facilities across South Africa and developed programmes addressing amongst others, gender issues, using sport as a tool to develop communities and also to break down barriers.
A 1-year stint as a trainer and consultant for Pro Active Project Management under, Barry Hendricks followed. A highlight of this period was the club development programme we developed for the United Cricket Board of South Africa. Thereafter I took up an opportunity in the National Treasury to head up the Special Pensions Fund in Pretoria. Here I managed four regional offices as well as a head office, a staff complement of about 50 people as well as an adjudication board and an appeals board. I gained invaluable knowledge and experience with regards to amongst others, legislative processes, human resource management and even actuarial science.
From National to Local Government
In 2009 I moved from Pretoria to The City of Cape Town just in time for the FIFA World Cup in 2010. Recruiting, training and managing volunteers as well as ensuring a legacy, was my main focus before, during and after the World Cup. We trained about 120 young leaders from across Cape Town in various aspects including personal goal setting, event management, leisure and recreation culminating in these leaders organising activities at the Fan Parks. We also managed the Cape Town (non-FIFA) volunteers, working at the Fan Parks and in the city centre.
At the City of Cape Town, I headed a unit dealing with research, information, coastal and resorts management, policy development and events management amongst others. My brief was also to develop relationships and partnerships with sports federations and NGO’s.
My team and I managed numerous local, national and international events.
Many stand out but organizing inaugural events such as the Cape Town Games, Camp Cape Town and Employee Wellness Days was particularly rewarding. I suppose my highlight was heading up the Local Organising Committee for the highly successful 2nd World Gym For Life Challenge in Cape Town in 2015. 25 Countries and about 1800 participants. My work in the anti-apartheid sports movement also played a significant part in my development and what I have to offer today.
I have been fortunate to travel abroad and through my travels I gained valuable experience and met many interesting people.
Through my travels travel I have engaged with funders, attended and presented at conferences. Amongst many places, I have travelled to Israel, the UK, Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Austria, France, Switzerland and the Czech Republic. I have also had the pleasure of training and facilitating in Tanzania, Namibia, Zambia and Mozambique.
Some Travel Highlights…
My first trip abroad was to Tel Aviv, Israel. It remains one of my most memorable. In spite of the challenges faced by the State of Israel over the years, they had a very active and progressive labour movement who was also very supportive of the anti-apartheid struggle. Numerous groups of young South African leaders travelled to Israel in batches of 20 for a training programme at the headquarters of the Histadrut in Tel Aviv. For one month we learnt invaluable skills such as programme and project planning, communication, proposal writing, development theory etc. We also visited various Kibbutzes and Moshavim and gained insight into the fascinating world of the power of collectives.
In 1992 I was fortunate to win the SHARE Fellowship, a partnership facilitated by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. I spent the Fall Semester at Penn State University in Pennsylvania. What an experience. Besides working in my sister department I also attended classes in Leisure Management. The scholarship also enabled the recipient to attend conferences and training outside of Pennsylvania. I managed to attend a very interesting workshop on mobilizing resources, which I constantly refer to, to this very day, in a village called Las Vegas.
Another memorable visit was my six weeks in solitary confinement at the Kensington Police Station courtesy of the Special Branch of South African Police.