Amahle was 14 years old when she was sent to live with her aunt in Delft on the outskirts of Cape Town. Her parents were both unemployed and could not care for her anymore.

The move to Delft did not yield positive results. Incidents of abuse occurred at her aunt’s home, and Amahle had to return to her parents in Mbekweni, between Wellington and Paarl in the Western Cape.

A choice to create a positive future

Upon her return, Amahle made a decision there and then to make her future as bright as possible.

Regardless of her traumatic past and her situation at home, Amahle pressed on to successfully complete her school education at Wellington High School. One thing that continuously gave her purpose and grounded her, was her love for sport.

Discovering her passion for sport

Amahle started playing netball at age 10 but a watershed moment was when she started getting involved with the Hope Through Action Foundation programmes presented at the Mbekweni Community Sport Centre.

I tried out for the under 14 netball team when I was in grade 8, but I made the under 17 team. This was when I started to realise that if I worked hard, I could achieve whatever I set my mind on,” she says with self-assurance in her voice.

Her involvement in sport taught her so much more than athletic skills – she realised that her life had a meaning and that if she worked hard at anything, the possibilities were far greater than she could have imagined.

Qualified aerobics instructor and rising young leader

That next year, Amahle decided to become an aerobics instructor at the centre. Seeing her great potential, the centre enrolled her in an instructor’s course, and she received a diploma in aerobics instruction.

Amahle also joined the centre’s young leaders’ group, which assists the wider community of Mbekweni with events at the centre, life skills sessions with kids and cleaning up the surrounding areas.

Her involvement in the centre and community awarded her with an opportunity to travel to Pretoria to attend the Cup of Heroes programme where teams compete in a range of sporting codes like netball, volleyball, soccer and other cultural activities.

Amahle believes that her participation in the young leaders’ group changed her from a shy little girl to a balanced, confident woman.

When I joined the sports centre programmes, I realised I could escape from my shell. They taught me how to do presentations and I learned to focus and express myself eloquently,” she says.

A queen with many crowns

Her confidence grew, and when Amahle was in grade 11, she entered the Miss Wellington pageant and was crowned first princess. She entered again the following year, and she won the competition.

She then entered the Miss Cape Winelands High School pageant and the 2019 Miss Paarl Juniors competition where she was crowned as 1st princess in both competitions.

In 2020, Amahle entered Miss Mbekweni and was crowned queen.

Beautiful, inside and out

Today, Amahle is captain of the Mbekweni Community Sport Centre’s senior women’s netball team. Dedication and hard work secured her a place in the under 21 Cape Winelands team, which recently won the Western Cape Tournament in Langebaan.

“Just being pretty will not take you anywhere. You are lost if you don’t use your head. You have to be intelligent and think for yourself,” she says.

Off the netball court, Amahle is also involved in @homelearning, an internship programme helping children to read after school at the Nompumelelo Educare centre.

I admire the energy the children have. They put so much effort into reading, and they become very animated in front of their peers. Mondays are for reading, Tuesdays are for sport and Wednesdays we do arts and crafts. Every day is different, but I love it,” she says.

The ball is in your court

Amahle has grown into a strong, balanced and confident woman despite all odds stacked against her. She is smart, talented, well-spoken, and has a moral compass that makes her a great leader in her community.

You can have people that support you, like the wonderful people at the Hope Through Action Foundation, but if you’re not serious enough about your future, you won’t succeed. Other people can hold your hand, but it’s up to you to push yourself,” she concluded.

Photographs and original words by Marzahn Botha.