Promising para-swimmer Keila de Oliveira is set for a major breakthrough in her career, as it has emerged that she has secured a fully-funded scholarship at the prestigious Windhoek Gymnasium Private School.
According to Keila’s mother, Cecilia de Oliviera, the 13-year-old Orban Primary student obtained the scholarship after her coach, Diego Kahlari, posted an Instagram story last week, showcasing her exceptional talent and tagging the school. “We are still speechless and finding it hard to believe that this has happened. What unfolded was that Keila’s swimming coach shared a brief story about her on their Instagram account, tagging the school in the process. A few days later, I received a call from the coach, informing me that one of his friends intended to arrange a meeting with the managing director of the school,” Keila’s mother explained.
The meeting with the managing director took place on 14 August.
“During the meeting, they engaged Keila in conversations about her dreams, aspirations, and her experience as a differently abled individual. Remarkably, with a single phone call, one of Keila’s most cherished dreams became a reality. We feel exceptionally fortunate and deeply grateful,” de Oliviera said.
On her part, Keila said this was a dream come true.
“I am filled with immense happiness, a sense of blessing, and profound excitement. I am eagerly anticipating embarking on the next chapter of my school journey,” she said. Recalling how her journey into swimming began, Keila explained that it was her uncle who initially motivated her to take up the sport.
“While I always had a desire to engage in sports, the idea of becoming a sprinter was considered, but it did not materialise. In 2022, coach Michael Hamukwaya approached my mother for a Unicef Namibia campaign related to World Children’s Day. During this event, coach Hamukwaya suggested that I explore swimming, as I had previously assumed that running was the only available sport for a Paralympian. This marked the beginning of my swimming journey at Infinity Aquatics, under the guidance of coach Kahlari,” she said.
Her 15-year-old uncle initially trained Keila before Kahlari took over. “He serves as my unwavering motivation and source of inspiration. Initially, I practised swimming solely during weekends at my grandmother’s house, with no idea that it would eventually evolve into a full-fledged sport,” she said.
Keila added that her dream is to represent Namibia at the Paralympics in the near future.
“With the opportunity accorded to me, I will want to one day become a gold medalist at the Paralympic Games,” she said.
The executive head of Windhoek Gymnasium Private School, Colette Rieckert, said she fell in love with Keila during their meeting because of her confidence and commitment.
“Windhoek Gymnasium is all about the holistic education of learners to empower them for a better future and to help make dreams come true. She received a full scholarship. She will work hard in her academic studies, along with swimming. The individual attention from our superb teachers will contribute to her success,” she said.