Mitsubishi Motors sponsors life-changing training to stop child drownings

  • Mitsubishi Motors South Africa ambassador Jaco Peyper joins Free State swimming academy to support children
  • National Youth Sports Programme (NYSP) helping children to learn to swim
  • SA former Springbok and multiple swimming champion takes up the challenge

BLOEMFONTEIN. – Mitsubishi Motors South Africa has been spreading its wings far beyond the motoring fraternity in various social responsibility campaigns, sponsorships, and support for communities, and have now also extended a lifebuoy of support to the National Youth Sports Programme (NYSP).

The NYSP is a non-profit organisation promoting water safety and is also accredited by and partnered with Lotto.

“We established the NYSP entity just over two years ago,” says Mitsubishi Ambassador Jaco Peyper, who as a national and international rugby referee is sponsored by MMSA for his driving needs on local soil. Peyper, who lives and works in Bloemfontein, partnered with the Markgraaff Swim Academy to co-ordinate projects and processes to release, amongst other, Lotto funding.

“NYSP approaches institutions to support us in making the projects financially possible. We have expenses to pay instructors, to use facilities and transportation to and from the swimming pool facilities,” says Peyper.

“Then, sometimes, we have equipment and maybe gifts we give out to make it a positive experience for the kids and benefit their education. Mitsubishi provided this opportunity for each child with a stationery package they can use at school and motivate them to participate in such projects to learn new skills. We also use Mitsubishi vehicles for the transport of the pupils as well.”

Marco Markgraaff, who is a former Springbok in multiple swim and other water disciplines and now a professional swim coach, is also involved with various national swimming teams. He hails from a family where all six siblings and their dad are Springbok swimmers.

“In a recent event (on Saturday 13 February) 40 children participated in the programme and improved quickly while having lots of fun as well,” says Peyper.

Markgraaff explains the NYSP (National Youth Sports Program) was founded with the goal of plowing back into community from the privileges the organisers have gained from sports. “Markgraaff Swimming Academy is my existing swimming academy where we handle water introduction, water safety and the process of teaching children to swim,” explains Marco.

“The children are taught to be water safe first so that they can help themselves if they end up in the water and need help. After that, they are taught to swim as well. If we identify good talent, we ensure further opportunities ahead in swimming as a sport. We want to take the group through training for the next year so that they have a fair opportunity to become water safe and learn to swim. I believe a ‘once-off project’ is not worth it, so we aim to do it for a year so that they can enjoy the advantage and get results.”

The project will be expanded countrywide at a later stage, but because of Covid-19 restrictions is run in and around Bloemfontein for now. “We would like to get things 100% before we expand,” says Markgraaff.

Nic Campbell, General Manager of Mitsubishi Motors South Africa, says MMSA supports this important project for various reasons, including the high drowning statistics of children who cannot swim, but would love to enjoy taking a plunge in a pool or the sea.

“Children who do not have the luxury of a pool in their back yard have no other means of learning to swim, and many – even when they are grown up – drown or need to be rescued when they take on any mass of water – even public swimming pools. This will give children the necessary skills to enjoy a swim and even help some develop to become competitive swimmers.”

Markgraaff says they use only qualified instructors for the swimming lessons. “We divide the children into groups to help swimmers at all levels develop to the next change,” says Markgraaff. “We also identify young swimmers showing talent, and work with the to ‘fast track’ them to join professional clubs and take up swimming as a sport.”

Peyper got involved in the project because of his involvement in high level sports activities on national and local level. “Because of my role as Mitsubishi Ambassador, I approached MMSA and we are working to expanding their involvement as the project grows. We also approached the Lotto and they have been supporting the project from 2020 to purchase equipment and pay for transport and venues. Without Lotto, we would not have been able to do this,” says Peyper.

Markgraaff adds: For my part, the reason why I am involved in this project is because I am tired of seeing money given for such projects going to waste. Truly little comes of it. We want to take responsibility for the success of the project and thanks to Mitsubishi Motors South Africa are proud to be able to do so.”

Locals interested to get involved in the project can contact Markgraaff by email on [email protected]

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