Can Wits wear both hats?

Barry Morisse is a post-grad accounting student, who played for the Wits Hockey 1st XI from 2011-2014 as well as chairing the Wits Hockey Committee in 2013. Photo: Luca Kotton

Barry Morisse is a post-grad accounting student, who played for the Wits Hockey 1st XI from 2011-2014 as well as chairing the Wits Hockey Committee in 2013. Photo: Luca Kotton

by  Barry Morisse

AS A Wits student-sportsman myself, the constant battle that goes on in my mind and those of my teammates is to ask what is the strength of Wits Sport relative to the other universities around the country? The question we all end up asking ourselves is this:

Can the university wear two hats – both as an internationally recognised academic institution and a sporting powerhouse? Popular opinion says no. But I believe it can.

When I arrived in 2011 and joined the Wits Hockey Club, I was well aware of the entrenched philosophy that would govern the relationship between my academics and my sport. I was coming to Wits to get a world-class degree, while playing hockey on the side to keep myself fit, enjoy the team atmosphere and to improve myself as a serious hockey player. I didn’t get the impression that Wits was competing with the best – but rather represented a pleasant break from lectures.

I worked on the Hockey committee for two years, before chairing it in 2013. What I saw was a dogged determination from everyone involved to build the sport section into a semi-professional, competitive, self-sustaining enterprise with the view of taking our performances to the highest level.

Traditionally, it is no wonder that Wits struggles to compete with the other top universities, simply because the financial and authoritative support allocated to Wits Sport is minimal compared to our rivals.However simply by throwing more money into sport won’t automatically turn us into a sporting powerhouse, it needs something more than that.

Instead we need to focus our attention and energies into crafting world-class facilities and a professional support structure to attract top athletes and allow them to reach the highest levels in their code while still maintaining the quality of their studies. That’s the unique proposition that would make Wits a viable option for the top young sportsmen and women of our country.

We are not there yet, by any stretch of the imagination, but we are making large strides towards it. If Wits can continue to offer the unrivalled academics it does while accommodating the needs of top sportsmen and women – that is an offer that cannot be matched across the country.

Once the sporting support structures are at the required level, the academics will draw in top young talent, thus catalysing the transition towards a truly holistic academic and sporting powerhouse.

Wits, wearing two hats.

HOCKEY: Wits hockey show signs of improvement

IMPROVING: Wits hockey team has a team talk over one of their short penalties which they failed to convert in their game against UCT. Photo : Luca Kotton

IMPROVING: Wits hockey team has a team talk over one of their short penalties which they failed to convert in their game against UCT. Photo : Luca Kotton

Wits hockey are second last on the Varsity Hockey log, after two bonus points and a draw in this weekends’ fixtures in Bloemfontein left them just two points above Rhodes University.

The first game on Saturday was against the home side, University of the Freestate (UFS), who started with a flurry of goals. Wits found themselves 4-0 down after 25 minutes but somehow managed to salvage a bonus point with a great second and third chukka display. Wits spirited performance left the game ending 6-4 to UFS in a high scoring game.

Barry Morisse, Wits link said,” We really didn’t have a good game but lots of positives to take forward- to grab a bonus point after being 4-0 was a great effort. Lots of hard work to do still though. ”

The crucial clash for Wits came against Rhodes, who had also only accomplished one draw up to that point in the fixture list. The match ended in a 1-1 draw after Rhodes led the match.

Matthew Povall, Wits half said, “It was a game we really should have won. We had many chances but never converted.”

The last game of the second leg of the tournament, hosted by UFS saw Wits play University of Pretoria in their final game, late on Monday afternoon. Wits narrowly missed out, 3-2 to the second placed Pretoria team but managed to salvage another bonus point.

Wits hockey coach, Mark Sanders, after picking up four valuable points this weekend said,”It’s been a tough weekend but the improvement from last weekend is good. We’ve created more chances but failed to convert a lot. Defensively we grown and stepped up to show that we can carry out simple instructions and follow the plan.”

Wits last group game will be against University of Johannesburg, the host team, on May 17 before the playoffs take place the same weekend.


Life as a half-eaten bowl of food

Over the last university break Barry Morrisse, (3rd year BAccSci) lived and worked in Shanghai, China on a 2 month internship with an international real estate marketing company.  He was tasked with crafting a strategy to expand business into Africa. The experience was transformed his life for .  He says that the culture shock and language barrier made everything an adventure in which he learnt so much about himself and  about a world that he had never even considered.

Read one of Barry’s stories below:

“After living, working and breathing in Shanghai for 2 months I think I naively started to believe that I was actually a local.  I had gotten lost in the city, conned by a taxi driver, eaten food from a street vendor, mastered (using the term very generously here) the art of eating with chopsticks, and had even been called by a Chinese telemarketer, twice!  I think that’s why I found this situation so amusing.”

I was sitting in the food court, enjoying my lunch when I spotted a group of foreigners eating a few tables away from me.  One of them in particular caught my attention because he looked like a South African.

Now of course, I have no idea if he was or not – but that is beside the point.

He was really struggling with his chopsticks but he was doing a fantastic job of making sure his futile efforts at grabbing his food were as subtle as possible.  I’m quite sure he left about half of the meal in the bowl just to save himself the embarrassment.

I laughed.

One could perhaps forgive him for his lack of chopsticks abilities, but as I watched it was clear that it wasn’t the only thing going awry.  Over the next 10 minutes he burnt his tongue on the soup, he spilt sauce down his tie, his jacket fell off his chair, the strap on his bag got caught under the chair, and I am willing to bet he wasn’t the best company in the world.

He was a nervous wreck.

It’s amazing what can happen in an unfamiliar situation, we can lose our grip on all the small things that we should have control over.  Even though we were in the middle of China, the only real difference in this situation was the cutlery – it didn’t explain the clumsiness.  However, this rudimentary failure to eat his meal effectively caused everything else to become doubtful as well.  The uncomfortable situation manifested itself in an half-eaten bowl of food.

In unchartered waters, even the small tasks become difficult and that is what makes it so challenging.  The quicker we can acclimatise to our surroundings and ‘feel comfortable in them’, the quicker we can start making meaningful contributions and gain control again.

So sometimes it might be more advantageous to stop pushing forward by “trying harder” and harder because you might just become more clumsy as a result of your increased effort.

Sometimes we should rather consciously work on acclimatising ourselves first, thus improving our efficiency and the quality of work that we can produce.

It’s not enough to just work hard – we need to work smart too.

Oh by the way, that South-African looking guy?

That was me.