Penn Hills Grad Reaches Out to South African Kids Via Volleyball


Alain Tamo-Noche immensely enjoyed his experience in Cape Town, South Africa. The Central State University student and Penn Hills graduate taught young people how to play volleyball.

One little boy, Mokhtar, left a lasting impression on Tamo-Noche.

“He stood out because he was eager to keep learning,” Tamo-Noche said. “He reminded me of myself. He always wanted to improve.”

Tamo-Noche volunteered to go to South Africa for three weeks with a non-profit called the Great Commissions United through Student Athletes Abroad. It wasn’t Tamo-Noche’s first trip to Africa. His dad is a native of Cameroon and he spent some time there as a kid visiting family.

This trip was a good experience for Tamo-Noche, who gained more appreciation for his opportunities in sports.

“When we were there, they had one net that wasn’t in great shape,” Tamo-Noche said. “They had a volleyball that didn’t have enough air. At home, when I go to school, they pay for me to eat and playing volleyball helps me pay for school. I feel blessed.”

Tamo-Noche plays for a Division II program in Ohio. The 6-foot-1 outside hitter chose to commit there when Central State formed a volleyball program to be part of the first season in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference’s first season.

The SIAC is a Division II conference of 14 schools primarily consisting of historically Black colleges and universities. Tamo-Noche was a late starter with volleyball.

He didn’t start playing until he was in 10th grade. The feeling that came with the teamwork involved with volleyball kept him around.

“I love how it’s a team sport,” Tamo-Noche said. “There are other sports where you may be able to relax and take a play off. With volleyball, every player needs to step up to keep the machine working.”

When Tamo-Noche heard about an opportunity to work with kids and teach sports, he was eager to be involved. Tamo-Noche first heard about the program from NyAsia Williams Matthews, who competes in cross country and track and field at Central State.

When the group was in South Africa, Tamo-Noche said they worked with kids ages 4 to 17. Several different sports were demonstrated from lacrosse to golf to volleyball. Tamo-Noche believed he was well-suited to work with that age group.

“I’m a big kid myself,” Tamo-Noche said. “I know that kids have a short attention span. I would try to do quick things to keep them interested.”

Tamo-Noche could also hike the mountains and visit Robben Island while he was there. In addition to teaching kids about sports, Tamo-Noche appreciated the education he received while he was there.

“It was a really good experience,” Tamo-Noche said. “It felt great for me to come back and give back to the children.”

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