Charné Bosman of the Nedbank Athletics Club, the 2016 Comrades Marathon women’s champion, believes that ‘what goes around comes around’. This is why she immediately agreed to become involved with the Spar Women’s Challenge Mentorship Program.
For the next year, Charné will act as a running coach to 17-year-old Lungile Ngomane, a grade 10 pupil at the Hans Kekana High School in Hammanskraal. “It is an honour for me to be involved in the Spar project. I think every person deserves a chance to succeed in life and if I am able to help in some small way to bring about a positive change in Lungile’s life, it would be something I would cherish forever.”
Things have not been easy for Lungile and her family. Her mom is a single parent whose only source of income is to recycle tin cans and plastic. The family stays in a shack, and on Saturdays, Lungile walks about 10 kilometres to attend extra classes to help her pass her Grade 10 exams.
Lungile’s passion is to run and running is the only way for her to escape from real life and to live her dreams. Unfortunately, the circumstances of her life are forcing her to forget this passion. Lungile represented Gauteng-North’s cross country team in 2014 but since then, the opportunities for her to run have become fewer.
“The first thing I want to teach Lungile is that she should not use her circumstances as an excuse to cop out of life. It should in fact be the driving force for her to want to succeed. I think the best way for me to explain this to her will be to tell her about what I experienced when I broke my toe in April, just a few weeks before the Comrades race. The easy option for me would have been to feel sorry for myself and simply give up. But this is not what I am about. I had to find a way to deal with the setback and to work around it.”
In a way, breaking my toe could be seen as something positive because it made Charné realize how much she really wanted to win Comrades. “Life is not only about winning. It is the way you deal with the setbacks that makes you a true winner. It is important for Lungile to understand this and it will be my challenge to help her to develop a positive outlook on life.”
Another thing that Charné want’s Lungile to understand is that she should find a balance in life. To succeed in her studies should be just as important as winning races. It can never be one or the other.
“As far as running is concerned, I am a firm believer in ‘baby steps’. Lungile first needs to master the art of running a good race on the track and in cross country. Then she can move on to running 5km and 10km races. As she gets stronger, her focus should then shift to half-marathons and eventually – in quite a few years from now – she can consider running the Comrades Marathon.
As far as the Spar Mentorship Program is concerned, Lungile should realize that it is not merely about receiving things. She should also see it as an opportunity to make a success of her life. We do not merely want to give her a fishing rod; we want to teach her to fish as well. If you give somebody the proverbial ‘fish’ he will never learn to fend for himself.