It is often the case that talented young people have to give up on their dreams because there isn’t enough money. Azaliah Smith had to face this obstacle and at the age of 11, her entire life is made up of obstacles. However, these multiple obstacles did not stop this talented gymnast from being selected to represent South Africa in an international gymnastics competition.
Some of the obstacles that Mitchell’s Plain’s Azaliah has to face is her father dying five years ago and confronting the dangers of gangsterism on a daily basis. She also lives in a cramped Wendy House, but what she does have is a mom that won’t allow her two kids to become victims of their circumstances.
Azalaiah’s mom, Bronwyn, makes sure that her kids stay off the streets by encouraging them to get involved in sports. Azaliah joined the gymnastics team of her aunt and head coach, Riyanah Dirks, and four years later, she is the Wasabi Gymnastics Club’s lead gymnast. Riyanah says that the level eight, acrobatic gymnast is a natural and exceptional talent.
Although Bronwyn and Riyanah are proud of Azaliah’s achievements, they were stressed about how to raise the money to get Azaliah to the competition. As part of their fundraising efforts, they approached IOL’s Cape Argus newspaper and luckily for them, the readers were more than willing to help.
After the newspaper published Azaliah’s story and asked for financial assistance, readers from all over the world opened their hearts and wallets. A well-known singer in the UK (who does not want to be mentioned) offered to pay for everything and another lady even offered to donate leotards to the entire team, each costing R1000. Others offered to donate free dance training as well as t-shirts.
After the remarkable generosity of people from all walks of life, Azaliah is prepped and ready to represent South Africa. She will be participating in the World Age Group Competition in Belgium, which will be taking place next year.
Source: IOL (Edited from articles written by Rusana Philander)