My WorldSkills Experience: By Yaqoob Damon

The following letter was received from Yaqoob Damon.  Yaqoob, a student of False Bay TVET College, was selected on his abilities to represent the continent at the 2017 WorldSkills Competition in AbuDhabi. He competed in the category of Automotive Body Repair. While he faced challenges, the maturity and determination he demonstrated, bears testimony to the character of this TVET student. The letter is published here.

To whom it may concern:

Dear Sir/Madam
I would like to share with you my WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017 experience regarding my participation in AutoBody Repair.
I forward this mail with great respect, since my skills have been elevated to a higher standard since it all started. Many thanks and appreciation to WorldSkills South Africa Association, who have made this possible.

It started when I first saw a poster calling for applications to WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017. What transpired was an experience of a lifetime! It gave me the chance to challenge myself against competitors from all around the world. I learnt that I was capable of pushing myself to achieve the best. I continued doing better, enhancing myself to my fullest potential.
When I earned the gold medal in WorldSkills South Africa 2017, the national competition, I learnt that I needed to be at my very best when competing in Abu Dhabi. I then began my training with immediate effect. I entered the automotive industry as a rookie who was eager to pace himself with the best in the industry. I was inspired.

When I took to the competition floor in Abu Dhabi, I discovered that the technology was going to hold me back. I was unfortunate not to have familiarised myself with the machines which were being used in the international standard environment of Autobody Repair. That never stopped me from challenging myself. I operated the Car-O-Liner Vision 2, which was not part of my exposure in South Africa, with all the basic knowledge of operating measuring systems. Not knowing I was the only competitor who had this disadvantage, I pushed myself even harder. In the course of the remainder of the competition, I only wished to make up for time.

Time was where I had lost the majority of the points. I experienced many shortcomings with the tools that were supplied. For example, I had a power bar with no sockets. My pneumatic saw was faulty. I struggled to clean panels for welding because I never had a grinder or orbital sander that could reach into the tight spaces. This meant that these areas had to be done manually. I had to rely on my instincts many times because of this. I had a tough time persevering for the duration of the competition.
Much support was given from the crowd's cheering though, from fellow South Africans who were eager to see their panel beater make headway amongst the competitors. I was not discouraged by the challenges. I motivated myself when timing became of essence. I drove myself to do the very best I could so I can make my family proud. I wanted to make South Africa proud, as well as myself.

Now I am able to grow, knowing that I have the potential to always be better. I wish to share my knowledge and experience in training with the next competitor who will be representing our nation. Making sure s/he is equipped and well prepared to compete on the international floors of AutoBody Repair. You have my utmost respect and appreciation. I will be eager to provide you with any necessary information that can assist in building the legends of tomorrow through my experience.

The exposure which was given to me by Worldskills South Africa, has most certainly empowered me. I am confident that I can be able to pioneer the next competitor in terms of mental strength as well as research on current global trends in the use of specific equipment. This will place South Africa somewhat in a better position to compete against international professionals.

I am Yaqoob Damon and I have become a champion.

I thank you.