Image Courtesy of Roger Sedres/Image SA
(Published - 13 August 2019)
Growing up in a poverty-stricken, gang-infested community can easily drive young people to fall into the same vicious circle and watch their childhood dreams disappear into thin air — but not for Rogail Joseph.
The 19-year-old UWC student, who is studying economic development, has vowed to use her God-given sprinting talent to fulfil her dreams and change the lives of her struggling family and community of Roodewal in Worcester, for the better.
“The area I’m living in is rife with gang violence and, sometimes, it’s dangerous to go out of the house. But that motivates me to do good things for my community instead of discouraging me. I want to use the power of sport to change the situation we are in. I will not stop loving what I do and will do my best to push through the difficulties and make my parents and community proud.”
Joseph was one of 15 athletes selected to represent USSA in the World Student Games in Napoli, Italy, in July this year. Prior to that, she also took part in the European Season. It was not the first time Joseph has had to represent her country, either. She was a member of the South African team that participated in the Zone Five Games in Angola in 2016 and Botswana in 2018, and in the World Junior Games in Finland. In April, she won the 100-metre and the 400-metre races at the African Junior Championships in the Ivory Coast and is the current record holder in the 400-metre race.
These achievements have made Joseph the darling and beacon of hope for her community. “I’m one of the few athletes in my area who is performing at this level. This shows that something good can come out of a poor and violent community.
“People here are supportive and are very excited about my achievements. Whenever I walk down the street, kids come up to me and say they have seen me on TV or have read about me in newspapers. They like me a lot and I am a role model to them.”
Joseph’s dream is to complete her studies and improve at big competitions such as the World Student Games. Her advice for youngsters in other communities like hers is simple: “Don’t let your circumstances be a stumbling block for your dreams. Look at the positive things in life and turn bad things into good things. Never give up what you love and always give your all”.
This article was first published in the Women's Month special edition of the Blue and Gold - UWC Sports' official magazine. Read the full magazine here.