Slice of life: Team work makes the dream work

For the past seven years I have played touch rugby, it was a spur of the moment decision that looked like fun and gave me something to do after school. I didn’t know the sport would lead me on a long but rewarding journey.

Three years ago, I was selected to play for the Gauteng Ladies side, an experience that has taught me more in that short space of time than my 12 years inside a classroom.

Our coach, Steven Knoesen, demands perfection in every aspect of the game, for defense to be as tough as the attack, and for us to memorise every move but to improvise when needed. The past three years under his watch have broken and subsequently moulded me as a player. Three years ago, I was an average player that sailed through most games on natural ability, a bit of pace and a lot of heart. However, when you’re coming up against the best touch rugby players in the country you’ll need a lot more than heart and pace to beat them.

Finally, after years of practice, fitness training week in and week out, running the same moves a hundred times and then a hundred more, learning from defeat and building a strong team bond; we made it to the Ladies final in March this year. Obviously, our opponents would be none other than KZN, leaving us feeling like we were thrown to the sharks. Thankfully, we succeeded! We won 4-1 and came home with our first ever gold medal.
The feeling of finally succeeding after years of tireless work is indescribable. Success is built on a foundation of hard-work, heart and the pure drive to achieve regardless of the circumstances. In anything that you attempt in life, you will always be more successful if you work hard and give it your all.

There is no ‘I’ in touch rugby. I have learned that it takes six people to score a try and it takes the same to defend against one. There are moments when individuality is important but nine times out of ten, a team will be better. You need a team, whether on a sports field or in a newsroom. A team that will go again and again until they succeed. Team work is an interesting concept in the fact that everyone must work just as hard the person next to them, you will only truly succeed if there is no weak link.

I have a Ladies team that is dynamic in ability as well as people from all walks of life that put everything aside once they step onto that field. The sense of camaraderie in sport is unrivalled, friendship is an integral part to personal growth. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people is crucial, they will push you to be the best version of yourself.

My three year slog to gold was a process that taught me that in everything you attempt in life, you need to put in equal part hard work to equal part heart and it is always better with a team next to you.

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SLICE OF LIFE: Overcoming my ‘quarter-life’ crisis

As 2016 came close to an end and people started popping champagne bottles to usher in 2017 with happy smiles, I came to a very stark realisation. I was terrified of what lay ahead. I had reached a point where I could no longer hide behind the title of student to explain why I wasn’t employed in a job that was taking me places.

I couldn’t excuse the fact that I was still not financially independent after four-and-a-half years of university study (preceded by three gap years). Worst of all, I could no longer continue in the miserable pattern of waking up, going to work, going home, trying to do something valuable before going to bed in the hopes of achieving some change, falling asleep and struggling to wake up the next morning to repeat the pattern again.

Truth be told, I didn’t regret any of the choices I had made until that point. I valued all my experiences and I was grateful for every opportunity life had presented. I had been an ambitious, daring go-getter but my then situation was not sitting well with me. I had fallen into what I came to regard as a “quarter-life” crisis. I didn’t know where my life was going career wise.

The more I spoke to friends and acquaintances in more or less the same post-university stage in life, the more I realised this crisis was a real and common thing. Talking about these struggles and comparing mine to other people’s stories helped me to feel normal. Once you realise you’re not alone, that there are other people feeling exactly the same way, you gather some courage to carry on fighting.

So, on New Year’s Eve, 2016, having mulled this over and gathering the courage to climb out from behind the bottle of champagne, I made a decision to make two changes. I wanted to apply for bursaries to further my studies overseas and I wanted to find a new job.

It took the whole of 2017 to make any sort of progress on these resolutions. It was a difficult, pick-yourself-up-again, time-after-time, kind of year – applying, being rejected and feeling nothing I had to give was good enough. By the end of the year I could hardly find the strength to get up and go to work in the mornings. I loved life but I just didn’t feel as if it loved me back.

It was at this point that I decided I needed to make a drastic change. I stopped looking overseas and set my sights on studying closer to home.

In the process, I had discovered that I wanted to pursue a career in journalism.

As 2017 drew to a close, I had applied, been for an interview, and had been accepted for study towards an honours degree in journalism at Wits. It was a step I nearly didn’t take – not because I didn’t want to, but because it was logistically very hard for me to go back to full-time studying. Despite the hurdles, I decided to be that ambitious, daring go-getter again and, in my experience, life has a way of rewarding that. Things fall into place like they should precisely when they should when you refuse to give up.

I’m not there yet and I can’t say I’ve made it but, if I survive this year, I can face the end of 2018 full of hope in my heart, happy to be popping a champagne bottle or two in the face of 2019 and the start of a new chapter in my life.

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