Madibaz rugby prop Tembelihle Yase overcame a time of darkness and relied on hard work and a strong support base to help him achieve his goals at Nelson Mandela University.
The 25-year-old graduate, who is doing his master’s in marketing, fell into a tough period of self-doubt when a contract with Eastern Province Rugby was terminated in 2015.
This left him with no funds to see out the year which, he said, caused much uncertainty about his immediate future.
“Fortunately, my mother and friends came together and gave me massive support, both emotionally and financially,” he said.
“I was helped by receiving NSFAS [National Student Financial Aid Scheme] funding in 2016. But that was a seriously tough time in my life, which I was able to overcome through the backing of my family and friends.”
Not surprisingly, he said ubuntu, a South African term that means showing humanity to others, was an important lesson he had learnt.
“In addition, hard work and staying true to yourself are two of the other biggest lessons for me at varsity,” said Yase, who matriculated from Cambridge High in East London in 2013.
He also acknowledged the high level of mentoring provided at Nelson Mandela University.
“There has been massive support from the entire department of marketing at Nelson Mandela University,” he said.
“Equally, Madibaz rugby has had my back throughout my career, ensuring I had all the support I needed. For this, I will always be grateful.”
Yase was an important player for the first team this year as they topped the combined log from the 2019 and 2020 Varsity Shield seasons to gain promotion to the top-flight Varsity Cup next year.
He insists he is no superstar, just someone who has worked hard to manage the demands of completing his academic commitments and fulfilling his dreams on the rugby field.
“The key to my balance in academics and sports is humility,” explained the prop.
“I understand that anything you love can be taken away from you suddenly, just like that. So I always apply myself to give my absolute best effort academically and in rugby.”
He identifies several past Madibaz stars as his biggest role models.
“Coming to play for Madibaz, players like Andile Jho, Yamkela Ngam and Robert Izaks were great examples to young players and I learnt from them how to conduct myself on and off the field.”