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#SportMadeMe story by Daniel Thomae - ADVANCE in life through sport Skip to main content

#SportMadeMe story by Daniel Thomae

By 3 septembre 2019No Comments
Daniel Thomae tells us about his relationship to sport

Tell us a bit about you?

DT: « I am 35 years old. Stellenbosch, South Africa is home, but my story winds back across the globe to Nigeria where I went to school, Kenya where my father worked as a doctor when I was little, and the USA where I was born in Florida and later attended university. I am the co-founder of training4changeS, which we started formally in 2013 with a determination to change the way that sport is used for development. I’m happy to say that we have become a global leader in using futsal for good. We are the only African organisation with an accredited curriculum for purposeful play & education outside the classroom. We have amazing partners from around the world, and most importantly we are on an inspiring journey with an incredible group of kids. Our focus is on providing individualised long-term support through a relationship-based approach. We provide high level futsal coaching, academic support, life skill teaching & mentoring. We’ve been fortunate to work with some amazing young coaches as well, in our Skills4Life Employability Initiative, and it’s been exciting to see many of them finding permanent jobs after their time with us. The whole training4changeS journey encapsulates my passions – which are people and social justice. In Stellenbosch we’re at the heart of the world’s most unequal country, the birthplace of Apartheid, and we get to unite people through sport, and challenge a history of racism, division, and injustice. It’s not easy, but people are so resilient, and I’m confident that love and unity will win out in the end« 


What is your relationship to sport?

DT: « I’ve been into football almost my whole life. I wasn’t the best player, but I was fortunate to play the game on 3 continents, and to earn a university scholarship through football. I have been involved with football for 25 years – as a player, coach, and now administrator. Growing up in Kenya and Nigeria I experienced firsthand the power football has to transform lives. It was during these years that I first envisioned using soccer as a tool for development. »


What is your best memory in sport?

DT: « One memory that stands out is the first time that I stepped on the field to play for my university team in the USA. Coming from high school in Nigeria I had the sense that I was taking this step not only for myself, but also for all of the people I grew up with who were far better players than me but would never have the opportunity to travel the world and pursue their dreams. That moment really helped motivate me on the journey that has led me to where I am today with training4changeS, giving other young people growth opportunities through sport.« 


What is the super power you have developed through sport?

DT: « Resilience without a doubt!

Throughout my time playing in university I spent a lot of time on the bench and the fringes of the team. I knew I wasn’t talented enough to play football at a higher level, but I loved being part of the team. I learned so many important lessons through all of the disappointment of not breaking into the team. I trained hard and I enjoy my teammates. Those times really showed me how much more there is to football than the 90 minutes people often focus on. More recently I tore my cruciate ligament playing football, and the hard work required to overcome the injury taught me even more about resilience. » 


How is this super power useful in your daily work life today?

DT: « Resilience is one of the most useful skills in the work we do. Life in South Africa tends to be unpredictable each day. With training4changeS we have faced so many challenges – financial, logistical, etc – but we are determined to make a way. We all believe in the cause, and that determination to overcome challenges is something that we try to equip young people with. Resilience is key to them overcoming their challenging surroundings to achieve their full potential. It also shows in the way our teams play, they play hard and they don’t give up – even when they are younger, smaller, or have less than some other teams might have. »

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