UCT Sport’s Mel Awu Is A Dynamic Young And Emerging Woman Sports Administrator In University Sport By Cheryl Roberts

26 Apr
  • 1mel awu

Mel Awu loves sport, especially being involved in tertiary sport in South Africa. In this Q And A Interview With ‘South African SportsWoman’ publisher Cheryl Roberts, we learn more about Mel Awu’s involvement in sport and her roles at UCT Sport as a sport administrator

Q: You are a young woman sports administrator in tertiary sport. How did you get involved as a sports administrator?
Mel Awu: Before teritary sport, I worked at a rugby franchise, in Port Elizabeth – The Southern Spears, then I was a Facilitator and Sport Assessor at a FET College, then Rhodes, TUT, Nelson Mandela University, and finally UCT. Tertiary Sport is where I have always wanted to be. While studying at Nelson Mandela University (PE Technikon at that time) – we were encouraged to do hours volunteering at sports organisations – so I racked up hours, at Iron Man, Athletics league races, coaching and hockey. Eastern Province Rugby is where I did my internship, and worked at my very first Rugby Test Match – Springboks vs France. I networked a lot while at EP Rugby, and I still work at Rugby Test Matches, even today!

Q: Tell us about your current tertiary sport job.
Mel Awu: It is so exciting – I love meeting new people, cultures, and learning about new sports. I am at UCT Sport. So basically, I oversee 10 sports clubs at University of Cape Town – mostly water sports – athletics, canoe, hockey, mountain and ski, swimming, rowing, waterpolo, underwater, sailing….1 more…

Q: What sports have you played and do you play?
Mel Awu: My first love is hockey – I also played cricket and football. Now, I am learning how to play golf, and I enjoying swimming.

Q: Would you like to stay in tertiary sport management or be involved in sports federation management?
Mel Awu: Definitely stay in tertiary sport – I have worked at a provincial union, professional franchise, and I definitely love the teriary sport scene.

Q: How would you like to see tertiary sport growing?
Mel Awu: 1) BUDGETS – At tertiary, most times – sport gets a piece of the budget, and we are expected to be NUMBER 1 – but we all know that, in order to attract the best athletes or coaches, you have to step up with the offer. 2) MORE WOMEN: The industry is still Male Orientated, but it is slowly shifting – as women, we need to be grooming other women and creating opportunities. Having said that, we cannot neglect men who would like to be mentored by us.

Q: Is UCT Sport growing much? Does UCT Sport attract top elite athletes?
Mel Awu: There is a steady rise in active students at UCT – UCT is in no position to offer Bursaries of more than R25 000 to athletes, so top-athletes who want to come to UCT, come because UCT is one of the leading African Universities. Obviously, as a sport department, we support all athletes, as much as we can, to reach top honours! This also offers us an opportunity to grow our own top-athletes – with the competent coaches we have, we can assist athletes to reach the top!

Q: Who are some of the young elite athletes at UCT, this year?
Mel Awu: Nama Xaba – Rugby, made the Stormers Squad. Mpumelelo Mhlonog – Para-Olympian. This year UCT have a first year international touch rugby player, Insaaf Levy who will play netball for the UCT netball team and SA youth Olympian hockey player, Nepo Serage is now a senior undergrad student and team player.

International touch rugby player Insaaf Levy from the Bo  is a first year student at UCT

Q: How does UCT Sport help athletes advance in sport?
Mel Awu: When UCT recruits coaches, we seek qualified and competent coaches, as we want the best for our athletes. We ensure our facilities are safe for our athletes, and we provide athletes support – should and athletes be selected for an USSA National team. Our students compete in USSA, and the local leagues, ensuring they are exposed to the best leagues available.

Q: Tell us about the sports bursaries offered by UCT.
Mel Awu: UCT Sport offers Bursaries up to R25 000 each, specifically for sport.

Q: Does UCT Sport critically focus on transforming sport at the tertiary institution?
Mel Awu: Each sport executive committee has to electe a Transformation Rep – and these Reps report to a member of Sports Council, who head Transformation. Further to that, this Sports Council rep, hosts Transformation workshops to ensure clubs are aware of the targets and guidelines of sport of our country South Africa. So, yes, we do, and we always seek for more opportunities to do more.i

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