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Change the world


Derrick Hoshe is a finalist in The Herald Citizens of the Year Awards in partnership with Nelson Mandela University.

Your mindset is stronger than your body and your circumstances, no matter how badly the odds are stacked against you.

Through this philosophy, Derrick Hoshe managed to overcome a broken home, avoid a misspent youth and pick himself up from debilitating physical injury, all the while inspiring others, especially the people of Gqeberha’s northern areas, through his love of sports and athletics.

That is why Hoshe’s nomination, in the sport category, for The Herald Citizens of the Year award in partnership with Nelson Mandela University, was a no-brainer for a spot on the illustrious list of finalists.

“My love of athletics helped me overcome my circumstances in various difficult stages of my life, and I believe it can provide an escape and an opportunity to so many of our people living in the northern areas,” the 62-yearold said.

Born in Schauderville, Hoshe’s name is synonymous with athletics programmes in the community.

For the past four years, most of his time has been split between athletics coaching on Mondays and Wednesdays and his community walk programme on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

He even organises the occasional breakfast walk on weekends to help bring people together for their personal health and for the good of the community.

But his journey with athletics started many years ago and found its roots in a divorce that tore his family apart.

“I was five years old when my parents divorced,” Hoshe said.

“Circumstances at home were not great and becoming involved in sport, specifically athletics, provided me with an excuse to spend more time away from home.”

When he was 14, crime and gangs reached new heights in the area and many of his childhood friends went down that path.

He avoided this by going to live with his sister in Arcadia, where he became involved in various church and community groups, while competing in athletics events.

After marrying his first wife, Angeline, in 1982, Hoshe took a step back from actively competing and focused more on organising sporting events and coaching.

He was instrumental in the formation of the Willard Batteries Athletics Club during his employment at the company, and also helped to lay the foundations for the Atlantic Aces Athletics Club and, years later, the Harmony Athletics Club.

But on July 30 2006, tragedy struck.

His running partner was killed in a car accident and later that same day, on his way to pay his respects to the family, their car collided with another vehicle.

His wife was killed on impact, while he and his youngest daughter, Deronique, were seriously injured.

“It took me 18 months to walk again,” Hoshe said.

“I had reconstructive surgery in my femur five times.

“Doctors told me I was lucky to walk again, but running was completely out of the question.

“But my mindset is stronger than my body. I refused to stay down.

“In 2010, I finished my first 10km race after the accident.

“In the past my time would have been in the region of 35 minutes, but this time it took me 75 minutes.

“But you know what? I finished.”

A year later, he took part in the Two Oceans Marathon and missed the cut-off time, but decided that he would tackle the Comrades Marathon again.

Before the accident, he had set his best time of 7½ hours for the Comrades, and though he knew that was far beyond his reach, he was determined to tackle the marathon.

In 2012, he participated in the Comrades and Two Oceans, completing both, and has since finished these races three and four times, respectively.

Since his retirement as the Nelson Mandela University Sport Centre supervisor in 2018, Hoshe has spent more time on another project he stumbled upon — the Inn Safe Hands Children’s Home in Schauderville.

The home looks after 15 abandoned children from the area.

The rest of his time is spent identifying more causes to involve himself in, putting his background in athletics to good use.

“I will continue to drive youth sports programmes for as long as I can,” Hoshe said.

“I try to arrange running events and hikes as often as I can, giving at-risk children from the northern areas something to do and an opportunity to escape from their circumstances.

“I hope it instils a sense of belonging and discipline in them that they might not get elsewhere, and helps them rise above the ills in their dangerous communities.”

This article appeared in The Herald (South Africa) on 16 August 2021 written by Riaan Marais. Nelson Mandela University is the main sponsor of the Citizens of the Year Awards 2021.

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