Why the KZN10 schools are getting it right

The success to date of Hilton College’s grade 11 triple first XI sportsman Suubi Mugerwa-Sekawabe is a combination; a three-pronged structure – raw talent, parental support and the school coaches’ guidance.


A PROUD HISTORY AND TRADITION: First XV front-ranker Henty Beukes enters Graeme Gilfillan Field ahead of the 200th Hilton Michaelhouse match.

Given Suubi’s sports career, I am surmising that raw talent is the base; and more than that, his achievement so far is the consequence of his Hilton College first XI coaches Celo Mbanjwa (football), Devon van der Merwe (hockey) and Dale Benkenstein (cricket) instilling in Suubi the more important values that indicate success is more about preparation than raw talent.

Featured image: SHARING A MOMENT – The St Charles College boys express themselves on Meadows during the first XV rugby match on 28 April 2018.

It is also a consequence of the support given Suubi in preceding years. It is no accident that Suubi has achieved success in all walks of life.


BROTHERS FOR LIFE: Clifton College first XV boys standing together, one for the other.


National recognition and regional/provincial recognition – be it academic, cultural, sporting – is the culmination of a step-by-step learning process that takes much time, blood, plenty of sweat – and yes, frustration and disappointment when a desired outcome is denied.

And it is not for all to achieve the heights, but it is for all to be the very best they can possibly be, given the talents they have. And here again I feel that my chosen KZN10 schools are on the right path – endeavouring as best they can to make each boy aware that there is an avenue for his “special power”; that his particular gift will be acknowledged, valued and nurtured.


More than just winning it, it’s about LIVING IT: Kearsney College 1st’s Dane Mertsch… living and loving every moment.


Please note: Suubi and Hilton College is an example. There are numerous other examples amongst all the K10 schools, as evidenced in the links below. There are some schools not included in the links that the same evidence will be painted in the weeks and months to come.

Some random examples: Celimpilo Gumede the DHS first XV captain, SA Schools (2nd year) and SA Sevens rugby forward; Sibusiso Sangweni, Kearsney College rugby captain and SA Schools loose forward; schoolmate Guy Morgan, firsts hockey captain, KZN Coastal A national title-winning captain and SA Hockey Fives team member.

The thing is, first and foremost these fine young men are primarily at school for academics and I have tried my best – until they get a gap – to let them get on with it, rather than infringe on their study time and numerous other commitments.

Please note further: Winning is by no means everything at school level, yet a general rule can be applied – boys and teams that are encouraged to extend themselves in a structured, skill-by-skill progression, will win most matches and individual events.


IT’S FAR MORE THAN JUST A JOB: Glenwood first XV head coach Derek Heiberg and peers take the time to understand and counsel each player in their care.


And, thank goodness in most respects: No one educational institution or boy is perfect – that’s what makes the process so satisfying in the long term; there is always scope for learning and for the betterment of the here and now.  

So, yes, Suubi had already shown the raw material and the desire at a young age, the sporting goods, to stand out, but as we have seen with many outstanding schoolboy sportsmen – some who have achieved post-school and others not – that in-born, innate ability is not enough.

As a sports journalist of 23 years’ standing who has a long-standing, abiding interest in schoolboy sport and its participants: What I see at Hilton College and other members of my chosen KZN10 schools is much more than just having talented boys; it’s a determination by their coaches and schoolteachers to foster a policy of encouraging, motivating the boys in a continuous search to further develop their innate talent.


SEEING BEYOND THE WHITES LINES: Northwood first team coach Shaun Baker and his KZN10 peers know that hockey’s educational value extends much further than the confines of an Astro.


The positive side of the coin is this: If the coach doesn’t enable the boy – when the boy has mastered the nuts and bolts of a particular skill set – to keep exploring, in a structured manner, the upper reaches of his talent base, a plateau is reached, a plateau where raw talent alone is not enough. The development – and the process of achievement flatlines.

And, ultimately, what could have been is never fulfilled. Therein lies the reality. The best coaches and schoolteachers tell the truth, improve the boys’ ability to communicate, instil the process that success requires in any field of endeavour.


SHARING A TEAM-MATE’S SPECIAL MOMENT: Members of the Westville first XV.


The sports field is a metaphor for life in its broadest terms; it is a theatre of the real world and the lessons that simply must be learned if success is to follow – the time to put one’s hand up, to stand alone, the time to suppress self-interest in pursuit of a greater cause, the time to put others first, the learning that there are no short-cuts, the growing appreciation and recognition that everything worthwhile is to be earned, not given.

Coaches who are adept at enabling their team and individual players to embrace and love getting past the comfort zone of current success through a constant, step by step, process by process, exploration of skills development and optimal performance will benefit all parties in the long run – and most important of all – will provide lasting benefit to each boy.


THE SHARED EMOTION of success that has at its genesis countless hours’ training when few are even aware you are.


* At its core: encouraging a joy for the little things – a the smell freshly cut sports field, the intoxicating aroma of a brand new leather cricket ball, a deep love of the sport itself, not the outcome of a contest, the deep satisfaction of sharing, by unselfish deeds, in the collective that is team.

* I am not predicting anything for Suubi or the young men mentioned here – there are many other variables, such as opting for a study focus post-school in which time constraints preclude the rigours of serious sport – but what I am saying is that Hilton College and my chosen KZN10 schools are doing their utmost to lay the best-possible foundation – a present and future life path that goes way beyond the school boundaries.

And perhaps most important of all – it is the social interaction of boys from all walks of life – the recognition that there is a common bond – if we care enough to find it.


WHERE FRIENDS ARE MADE: Every KZN10 Old Boy will tell you that where once there were rivals now there are friends – mutual respect borne of a common interest and a shared battle.


The links


Luyanda a Prince among KZN10 schoolboy sportsmen



DHS vs Maritzburg College 1st XV epics… 1987-1989… Ivy’s memories


Hilton College’s shooting star Suubi Mugerwa-Sekawabe


Trust comes from knowing that Jens is on your team – trust me: 082 576 2406.


Glenwood first XV – The process that leads to the performance


Michaelhouse’s multifaceted Mubeezi Lubinga



Master Blaster Matt Lewis the Clifton kingpin


Westville Boys’ Head of School Matthew Pollard reflects on the year


Communication. The key to understanding. Go beyond the mixed messages. Lucienne (065 301 3095) is waiting to connect your way.


Northwood keeper Taine Bird a shot-stopper of note


Maritzburg College’s Braderz ticks all the right boxes


2018 Kearsney Easter Rugby Festival wrap


Hill Premium Quality Cricket Balls will never let you down. Maritzburg College Old Boy and cricketer Stuart Hill (082 752 1494) will tell you why.


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