Madibaz cricketers Matthew Christensen and Luphumlo Ncanywa, having made an impact on the sports field, capped their varsity careers in style by graduating this year.
Christensen studied for a BCom in business management and Ncanywa did his doctorate in chemistry as the Nelson Mandela University student-athletes underlined the importance of careful planning to achieve success.
Batsman Christensen, 23, rose to play for the EP Amateur team and attended the national academy, while Ncanywa, also a batsman, showed his talent by hitting a century in his first match for the varsity’s George campus side.
Born in Middledrift, the 32-year-old Ncanywa said an interest in science led him to Nelson Mandela University, where he first started studying in 2005.
“I enrolled for a BSc in chemistry, but I wasn’t doing so well,” he recalled. “Rather than quitting, someone introduced me to polymer chemistry.
“I obtained that qualification and after working for a short while, I returned to studying in 2012 to try to get my honours. I met Prof Paul Watts who introduced me to continuous flow chemistry and that has led to my doctorate.”
He said that students needed to realise that there would always be challenges.
“You have to put in place good planning to overcome them to achieve your goals. Also, you need to balance this with taking time out for some fun.”
Christensen also emphasised how important it was to prioritise academic commitments, especially in the first two years.
“First-year students need to plan carefully and finish as many modules as you can as early as you can,” he said.
“Don’t be tempted to take it easy during your first and second years because if you can get the bulk of your studies done you will enjoy your sport much more as there won’t be as much pressure.”
Both cricketers underlined the importance of receiving support from parents and friends, as well as lecturers and Madibaz Sport management.
“Sometimes I had to schedule my practices for odd times to fit in with my study commitments,” said Christensen, who grew up in Cape Town but now lives in Port Elizabeth.
“The coaches and management were very understanding and supportive. A big thanks must go to [EP Senior Provincial coach] Piet Botha as he was always willing to assist if I had to write a test or leave a practice early.
“Mr Riaan Osman [Madibaz Sport deputy director] also played a tremendous role, especially in my first few years, helping me with the logistics off the field and the admin side of things for missing classes.”
Ncanywa reiterated Christensen’s views, saying his “excellent support system” was invaluable in him realising his dreams.
“There were always challenges on the academic front, but excelling was my number one priority so I relied heavily on the support I received from all quarters.”