Juggling competitive sport and studies is a tough call that many students have found to be so arduous that they end up throwing in the towel. But a number of star athletes at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) have managed the balancing act and are graduating with their degrees at the Autumn Graduation Ceremony at UWC from 3-9 April.
Among them is sprinter Rodwell Ndlovu, the former chairperson of the UWC Sports Council and the current vice-president of University Sport South Africa (USSA). Ndlovu, who is also an ambassador for International University Sport and a 2015 All Africa Games bronze medallist in the 400m, graduates cum laude with his Masters in Population Studies and Statistics.
He is joined by Cape Cobras right-arm fast bowler Lizaad Williams, with a BA degree in Arts. During the same graduation ceremony on April 3, the UWC Varsity Cup rugby team captain Adrian Paarwater obtained his BA degree, as well as teammates Clayton Daniels (BA degree) and Mark Bright (BSc Sport Science). Springbok women’s rugby star Babalwa Latsha also graduates, along with the current Chairperson of the Sports Council, Olivia Williams - both with their LLB degrees.
USSA’s Sevens rugby star Verno Treu (BA Sports Science) and his UWC 7s rugby teammate Daniel Bock (B Ed) are also graduating. UWC hockey player Robyn Burrows (who completed her BA SRES degree last year with a summa cum laude) graduates cum laude with her BA Honours in Biokinetics.
Other hockey stars graduating are Suhayra Dollie (B Admin), Okuhle Cwala (BA degree), Irma Human (B Ed), Matthew Steyl (LLB) and Kaitlin Eaton (BA SRES). Men’s hockey team manager, Mahlangabeza Jordan, graduates with a BSc in Sport Science.
UWC Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Tyrone Pretorius, congratulated the graduating athletes and said: “We are producing a new generation of sportsmen and women for South Africa. They will have something to fall back on when they are no longer able to participate in sport.
“In the past we have seen some very tragic stories about our heroes of yesteryear, who went to professional sport without having any qualification to fall back on. We are creating a new and different kind of sportsmen and women, where we insist that you are at UWC primarily to obtain a qualification, and secondly to participate in sport. For many of our students, sport is actually the only means for them to access higher education.”
UWC Sport Director, Mandla Gagayi, echoed Prof Pretorius’s sentiments and added that a professional athlete’s sports career is a maximum of 15 years. “As such, we are happy when we see athletes leave UWC with a degree to fall back on when their days as competitive athletes are over. They came to UWC with the objective to study, then play. They must never deviate from that objective and must use sport to enhance their academic endeavours.”