UWC Sport ‘Riding Crest Of A Wave’ By Cheryl Roberts

20 Apr

Participation in student sport at the Cape Town – based University of the Western Cape is showing vast improvement scales and subsequent results from participation in student sports events are showing UWC as a winning tertiary institution.
Director of UWC Sport, Mandla Gagayi believes UWC is ‘riding the crest of a wave’ with ‘everything we touch turning to gold’.
Well, not exactly when it comes to the UWC men’s rugby team. Mr Gagayi feels strongly that UWC’s rugby team should be participating in the Varsity Cup and not the Varsity Shield. During April, in a play off with University of Cape Town, UWC rugby lost the match. This means UWC will again be playing in the Varsity shield.
UWC Sport is proud of both their women and men sports people with both genders bringing in the trophies and titles. ‘UWC women’s football teams are the 2016 USSA champions, UWC men’s cricket team lost in the final, UWC beach volleyball and men’s football are the Varsity Sports champions’.
Mr Gagayi is two years into the position, having left Rhodes University to take up a position at a bigger university. To what does he attribute this UWC confidence? ‘When I arrived at UWC, there was the prevalence thinking of UWC always comparing their sport to university of Stellenbosch (Maties) and University of Cape Town, with UWC perhaps feeling a little inferior and disadvantaged to the two well-resourced and well-financed universities. So I told our sports people let’s stop comparing ourselves to these two institutions. Our desire and passion must be to be better than them’, explains, Mr Gagayi.
I asked Mr Gagayi if UWC offers attractive and lucrative sports scholarships to attract the best young sports talent to the tertiary institution? ‘No, we have not been able to offer lucrative sports scholarships, especially in the past two years. Our biggest scholarships amount to R30K, a far cry compared to former white universities. What we have happening at UWC is the belief students have in the institution. You must remember that UWC has a rich tradition and heritage, steeped in community respect. Students are lured to UWC because of its reputation and because students feel they can be happy here,’ said Mr Gagayi.
Mr Gagayi says the one change he implemented immediately was to ‘make everyone know and understand their responsibility and to own their space within the tertiary institution’s sport corridors and playing fields. We are all UWC Sport, we are all accountable and responsible and that includes the coaches, sports officials, athletes, managers.
‘What we also have at UWC is a Vice Chancellor who loves and respects student sport. VC Professor Pretorius is always ready to give support to our athletes, to talk to them and encourage them. We don’t have to wait months to meet with and interact with our VC; when needed Professor Pretorius is one with UWC Sport.’
Mr Gagayi has only praise for the recently introduced Varsity Sport and Varsity Cup events. ‘These events have brought a new era to tertiary sport. UWC Sport has increasing numbers participating in student sport because of Varsity Sport. This is healthy and positive for tertiary sport.
‘And with this increased interest in student sport comes the sponsors; those who want to be associated with tertiary sport and its winning teams and brands. Already, UWC’s football is sponsored by Lion of Africa and our athletics team is sponsored by BestMed Insurance.
‘At UWC Sport, we are happy with our progress; we are also constantly assessing our weaknesses. Yes, we are disappointed with our men’s rugby placing and feature in the varsity Shield. But we are UWC and we are strong-minded, Together with our passion and confidence, we will soon be playing Varsity Cup rugby.’ UWC-Banner-soccer

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