One of the main benefits of rowing is improved fitness. It involves propelling a boat on the water and uses all of the body’s major muscle groups (arms, legs, back, abdomen, and buttocks) but most young people in South Africa are not familiar with the unique sport.
To close this gap, Virginia Mabaso, Development Co-ordinator for Rowing South Africa (RowSA) is making incredible strides in developing rowing in South Africa by getting children from all sectors of society involved in the sport.
Mabaso developed a deep love for the sport when she became an administrator for RowSA back in 2007. “The first race I attended was the South African School Championships. After attending the event, it motivated me to read the rules of rowing and volunteer my time to officiate the sport. I fell in love with it!” she said.
So she started to challenge herself to make a real difference in the sport by becoming the first Development Manager for RowSA.
“I came into RowSA without any written documents as to how to develop the sport in the country, so I had to develop plans for the whole process. I was exposed to a whole lot of people in all the provinces. We’ve met incredible kids, incredible coaches and educators,” said Mabaso.
She said that her main focus right now is to get children into the indoor rowing programme and then onto the water. Every year, the organization visits new areas, engaging with the community and local governments. Last year, RowSA managed to get the North West province involved in the development programme, giving 27 children the chance to race in the South African National Championships.
Mabaso added that apart from rowing being a healthy and fun sport, it can also turn into a career. “We encourage educators to get involved by contacting us so that we can help with starting up and sustaining programmes,” said the rowing expert who won the Sports Administrator of the Year at the SA Sports Awards in 2015 and 2018