Thirteen-year-old Matshidiso Chula, Grade 7 learner at Piet Hugo Primary School and recently named Sports Boy of the Year, says rugby made him change from being a naughty boy who did not care about anything to being a model learner.
“The school principal and my coach pushed me to start playing rugby in Grade 4 and to do well in the sport,” he explains, “They truly inspire me every day to do better”.
He has come a long way from being a rebellious Grade 4 learner. This year he was chosen to play for the Limpopo u.13 rugby team, playing as eighth man. “I think our team did well. We lost some and we won some matches.” He is also a prefect, something that was undreamt of prior to Grade 4.
“When I started doing well in rugby at school, life just seemed to get easier and more enjoyable both at school and at home. It was a good feeling for people to be happy with me and not angry with me all the time. I also realised that I had been a very angry person, which I no longer am,” he explains.
He says he definitely dreams of becoming a Springbok rugby player one day. He also enjoys playing soccer and cricket, and says he is doing much better academically since he started playing rugby seriously. “My favourite subjects are Natural Sciences and Mathematics.”
Matshidiso says he hopes to attend Tom Naudé Technical High School next year. “They also have a very strong rugby team and I hope to play for them.”
Another passion of his are his two black and white pit bulls. He says he enjoys their company and regularly goes for very long walks with them. “They are wonderful animals. Very intelligent and loving, not aggressive and dangerous like many people say. I think it all depends on how you raise them,” he says.
School Principal Werner Christou agrees that Matshidiso was a learner who misbehaved regularly. “But we saw the potential in him. We decided to encourage him at rugby as he showed an interest in the sport. We did not give up on him. He listened avidly to our advice and tried to follow it. We made sure that he received praise where it was due. Eventually he became so involved in rugby that everything else fell into place. He was even made a prefect, that’s how well he began to do. He is definitely deserving of the title of Sports Boy of the Year,” Christou explained. Matshidiso’s advice to other learners who are having a difficult time at school and do not enjoy learning is:
“Stop being naughty. Have respect for yourself and others and everything will fall into place and go well for you.”
Story and photo: KAREN VENTER