Madibaz squash mentor Jason le Roux says a student-athlete’s studies must come first, but believes the disciplined training required by the sport can play an important factor in their lives.
The 37-year-old coach has had an influential role in Nelson Mandela University’s squash fortunes since he moved to Port Elizabeth from East London in 2011.
A natural competitor, Le Roux said his aim for the players was to always achieve the best result possible.
But he acknowledged the top priority for student-athletes at the varsity was academics.
“As a mentor to them I want them to see that squash is a sideline to their future and studies,” he said. “But that does not mean you can’t give it your all on the court.
“Once you know the time you have for it, give it everything in that time and seek enjoyment out of improving and being the best you can be.
“The difference between you and the next person in the job interview can be your sport achievements and bosses like to see that you are a balanced and disciplined person.”
After studying sport science and doing his honours at Nelson Mandela University, Le Roux was on the verge of heading to Cape Town in 2015 to become the UCT squash coach.
“However, in December  an opportunity opened up at the Eastern Cape Academy of Sport, where I did my internship during my honours year,” he said.
“I was fortunate to get that position after applying and am now the acting co-ordinator for the Madibaz High Performance Centre at Nelson Mandela University.”
He took over coaching of the Madibaz players in 2013 and emphasises the enjoyment side of the game.
“My main goal as a coach is to help them enjoy squash and want to improve,” he added. “From there it is coaching them to improve and how to be their best.
“The most important issue I try get across is not to quit. Try to enjoy squash and the training, or the games only if that is what you want.
“If you can find the element of fun first, then you can look to grow in the game.”
From 2012 to 2015 Madibaz won the men’s Super league, a title they also claimed in 2017 and this year. They won the men’s first league title from 2012 to 2017, while the women’s team have been crowned first league winners in the past two years.
“There are plenty of exciting young players, but the struggle is to keep them in the Eastern Cape and to get them to study at Nelson Mandela University,” said Le Roux.
“At the moment four of our top five men and four women achieved top 10 rankings at schools level.”