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success in life - stories

examples of members who make most out of their membership of Nemato Change a Life

Athenkosi Hlekani


Athi has been a member right from the start of our rowing club at the end of 2005. He was elected by the members as captain for two years in a row and as board member he had a strong say in the direction the club was going. At the young age of 16 he did the acceptance speech for the Jack Cheetham Award in the glamorous Sandton Sun Hotel what earned him the words "young man, you have a great future ahead of you" from the CEO of Murray & Roberts.

Boat Race: the captain speaks

winning the prestigious Jack Cheetham Award

Athi heading a Nemato/Eton College eight

He became the youngest and first black board member of the Eastern Cape Rowing Association. As Nemato rower he won the Eastern Cape Junior Championships in the single scull. He scouted be the University of Johannesburg. He received a full sports bursary, what enabled him to study. He became the first black captain of UJ rowing club and spent most of his rowing hours on the leading stroke seat in the eight.

Athi winning Junior Eastern Cape Champs

Athi stroking the UJ eight at Boat Race

Athi's presentation at JSE for Change a Life partners

His presentation for the Mike Thomson Change a Life Trust convinced them that our programme as worth their support. As only South African he was selected to participate in a United Nations Youth Leadership Camp in Qatar, making him our first member to travel overseas. In the same year he also travelled to Europe as coach of his junior team. The competition was in Belgium and they also spent a day visiting Paris.
He was shortlisted with only five other rowers worldwide for the World Rowing's 2013 Parmigiani Spirit Award.
Athi graduated in 2014 and is now combining a post graduate course in education at the University of Johannesburg with teaching and coaching rowing at the top school Jeppe High School. In the same year he proudly became the head coach of the school and the coach of the first team.

Athi coaching his team for competition in Belgium

Athi in Europe as rowing coach

Athi working with Nemato Change a Life kids

It is a worrying thought that without our programme, Athi would not have been able to study and develop himself. How many talented youngsters in the townships are stuck in poverty and have no chance to become successful in life?



Athi graduating at the University of Johannesburg