Hail the Chief of UKZN: iLIVE
On Saturday I travelled to Pietermaritzburg to attend the University of KwaZulu-Natal rugby day in aid of the Jes Foord Foundation and the Rugby against Rape project. The day was marked by a series of selfless gestures.
First, in the name of charity, the varsity third team fronted up for action against Cedara College, just a few hours after playing a tough league match. A magnanimous gesture by the "Thirsty Thirds".
Then the university's Howard College team forfeited their usual bright strip to play in the lime green colours of the Jes Foord Foundation. Jes, herself, was touched.
But the most astonishing gesture came from the UKZN under-20 team, which was shunted to the B field and given an unglamorous kick-off time in order to accommodate the senior teams. After the rugby day, these guys were led in song and "fines" by their captain. I believe his name is Sanele Mweli and he is a business administration student. They call him "Chief".
He does not have "rugby pedigree" and did not attend a traditional rugby school. But he has trained hard to become under-20 captain, and seems to run a fantastic post-match kangaroo court.
A former varsity and Natal player was so impressed by the spirit of the under-20 lads that he gave Chief a rather substantial sum to spend on their little party. Chief pocketed the money and went to speak to his team. I know what I would have done in his shoes, but Chief returned, money in hand, declaring to the benefactor that his team wished to donate the money to the Jes Foord Foundation.
I have subsequently asked about Chief. He comes from a modest background, is short of money, and his mother is struggling to pay his varsity fees. Now, that's what you call honourable.
Chief's attitude is a shining example to school, academy and university players in this country, who are sometimes so preoccupied with achievements, exposure and contracts that they lose the ethos of enjoyment, loyalty, team spirit and honour that underlies the point of sport.
To Roger Sheppard, Ashraf Ghani, Reggie Smith, Ian Tait and the coaches and committeemen of University KwaZulu-Natal rugby: if this is the camaraderie and integrity you are fostering among our youth, your results on the field are really incidental. You should be commended for producing honourable young men.