Shining Her Rae: Raedene Lucas Promotes Sport For Development And Peace

Khanyisile Brukwe, 28 April 2021

When Raedene Lucas matriculated, she deferred the decision to study further for a year, and used that time to pursue her passion: sport. Now she has two degrees, lectures, develops online lessons, and has her own sports recovery massage practice and leading roles in sporting outreach NGOs. Not bad for her first 25 years.

“Sport has always been a part of my life and has helped to shape me into the person I am today,” she says. “I definitely would not know the benefits of perseverance, hard work and discipline if it was not for Sport. These values are what brought me some of my most proud achievements to-date.”

Born and bred in Mitchell’s Plain, Cape Town. Lucas was a former high performance Women’s Artistic Gymnast, and represented and competed for Western Province for 10 consecutive years. So she recognized the need for athlete support in South Africa. 

She registered for a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sport, Recreation and Exercise Science majoring in Psychology at the University of the Western Cape, and also began volunteering for the Foundation for Sport, Development and Peace in 2015 and continues to serve as a youth facilitator to date. 

“This is where my passion for youth development was ignited, and I continued to volunteer at other sport organisations and NGOs including, Sport Science Institute for the Community Health Intervention Programmes (CHIPs).”

One degree wasn’t enough for all that passion, so after graduation, she registered for a Postgraduate Diploma (Honors) in Sport for Development. She graduated Cum Laude – while also receiving the Dean’s Merit List Award for Top Achiever in the Community and Health Sciences, being invited as a member of the Golden Key International Society and receiving the New Member Recognition Scholarship for Scholastic excellence. 

“That was an amazing experience – and a humbling one,” she recalls. “I didn’t really expect any of it – and definitely not all in one year!”. 

Lucas continued her own development, completing a certification in Massage for Sport and Fitness as well as the Activate! Change Driver Programme in 2018. She also continued to volunteer and took up new leading roles. At the first African Youth Forum, in 2018,  at Robben Island, the Youth Network for Sport Development and Peace was born, and Lucas has served as the YNSDP Vice-Chair ever since, leading a team that plans, creates and facilitates sport programmes focusing on Youth development. 

The Youth Network strives to create a cohort of like minded individuals who aim: to understand, advocate and promote sport and Universal and Olympic values as tools for development, social change, and peace among youth and young adults, at the community level and at society at large. 

“It’s our responsibility as young professionals to lead by example,” she says. “Each of us at the Youth Network practice the values that we instill in the Youth. To always encourage inclusive participation, celebrating diversity across cultures, race groups, sexual orientation, age, gender identity and creed. And to be part of the journey towards continuous development amongst the youth.” 

Pandemic Plans: Growth & Raecovery 

Just prior to the pandemic, Lucas began lecturing at Exercise Teachers Academy (ETA) in the fields of Advanced Fitness, Exercise Physiology, Sport for People with Disabilities and Sport Massage. She is also a content writer for Tate International School where she develops online lessons for high school students studying the Cambridge curriculum, through homeschooling. 

“As a young professional, throughout my journey I have had the opportunity to learn, share, lead and teach,” Lucas explains. “I wanted to continue in that same fashion by creating a space that can provide opportunities for future young professionals in the sports industry to learn, grow and collaborate.”

In January 2021 Lucas launched her own massage practice, Raecovery Sport Massage. She has worked with a variety of people from individual professional and amateur athletes to teams, maintaining muscle recovery and injury prevention for pre- and post-event recovery, including Karate South Africa Athletes and the Protea Rope Skipping Team. 

Lucas’ career is one that excites her and makes her look forward to what the future holds.  “I have had the opportunity to experience different cultures, traditions and I learned a lot in these spaces. Because of this, I have always looked for ways to share that platform with others.” 

She believes in striving for excellence, that one should aim to be a better version of themselves rather than trying to be better than others.

“I struggled in my first-year of undergraduate studies, and almost failed Anatomy. I received an A for Advanced Exercise Physiology in the following year and even taught the module as a student facilitator and lecturer. This taught me that your weaknesses can become your strengths.”

But Lucas does know how to kick back and relax – and, depending on Cape Town weather (and lockdown level these days), you’re likely to find her on the side of a mountain, enjoying the beach or at home curled up with a good book. 

She says she owes her success to her siblings, Warren (yes, that Warren) and Melissa, and her supportive (and instructive) academic and professional mentors, Prof. Marion Keim and Prof. Christo de Coning. But above all, she attributes her achievements to her mother.. 

“Renee Lucas is a single parent who managed to teach three children that they could be what they wanted to be, and make a difference,” she says. “She taught me the power and strength of an independent woman, and I wouldn’t be where I am or who I am without her.”