A determination to succeed, strong discipline and time-management are the ingredients to ensure you achieve your goals, say the latest group Madibaz Sport graduates.
Allied to that is the loyal backing of families, friends, lecturers and coaches at Nelson Mandela University, which has seen these student-athletes thrive in the lecture room and on the sports fields.
Rugby scrumhalf Dundre Maritz, who graduated with an honours (cum laude) degree in economics, said an unwavering commitment in all spheres had been critical during his varsity career.
“My father always told me to ‘to show up’,” said the 24-year-old, who was a key figure in Madibaz gaining promotion to the Varsity Cup.
“Every day you need to show up in terms of work ethic, commitment, loyalty and determination.
“Looking back to matric, I probably should have been the last person to make it to where I am today. But I made a choice to rebuke mediocrity.”
Maritz associated himself with individuals from all aspects who could help with his progress.
“They have played a massive role in my development as a student and athlete. I always had and still have access to valuable expertise and wisdom that you simply cannot buy.”
Netball player Lindokuhle Manyisa, who earned a diploma in civil engineering, agreed about the need to be committed.
“I had to pitch up for every practice and game, so discipline was very important, while keeping up with my academics.
“My coach, who rooted for us to do well academically, also motivated me.”
Her message was to be as dedicated in your academics as you were in your sport.
“It’s not easy, but it’s possible.”
Alex Penhall, who is busy with his honours in psychology, said it was important to absorb the holistic experience of varsity life.
“I would say students must enjoy every second they get because time goes by so fast,” said the hockey star.
“Manage your programme well and know when it is time to have fun and when it is time for work.”
Penhall said the Madibaz management team lent plenty of support, especially when it came to handling the inevitable injuries.
“There was always patience and understanding and that, combined with my passion for the game and will to succeed, drove me.”
Hannah Werth, a BSc graduate and top water polo player, emphasised the importance of always delivering her best, a quality that netted her academic and sports bursaries.
“The sports bursary was a great help, but to reach your full potential you have to give absolutely everything in all aspects,” she said, which led to the academic bursary.
Soccer player Kaashif Jassen admitted he faced tough academic times, but his support structures were instrumental in him graduating with a degree in human movement science.
“I was challenged in my academics – a lot,” he recalled. “I think my peers and lecturers can testify to that. But their support was critical.
“Also, my friends have been crucial to my growth and successes. It is very important to have people around you who not only make you happy, but push and motivate you.”
Volleyball ace Bogolo Moloisi, who has an advanced diploma in business studies, said the backing she had received on the academic front was essential to her growth as a player.
“The biggest thing was the letter [of permission] when you needed to go away for games. I am so thankful that I had such supportive lecturers, because I know that there are some who reject those letters.”
She also emphasised the importance of time management.
“Balancing academics and sports is not easy. On one side you need to get that qualification, but there is also this sport you are so passionate about.
“The fact that I had the same load of work as other students was hard. I just developed my time management skills and learned to prioritise.”
Sprinter Aidan Tuohy, who graduated with a sports management degree, emphasised the role his parents and coach had played in helping him balance his workload.
“My parents would motivate me and they were always proud of me no matter where I came. They just knew how to take the pressure off,” he said.
“It was the same with the Madibaz coaching staff, who helped me to work on my weak points. They also understood the importance of studying, allowing us to re-schedule training when there were academic commitments.”
Tuohy is also a proponent of proper planning.
“You have to stick to a timetable to balance academics and sport, because if you don’t, your marks will slip and you may under-perform in competitions.”
He enjoyed meeting new people, but emphasised the importance of controlling your lifestyle.
“Go out and socialise, but you must learn to balance social and athletics life and never forget your priorities in order to meet your goals.”