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Coach shares journey

He came, he saw, he conquered . . . that, in short, is an apt description of Zukhanya Magwa’s Maties sports journey.

Originally from the Eastern Cape, he came to the Stellenbosch University to study, something that didn’t last too long.

Sharing his journey in the sixth episode of the Maties Sport Connected Coaches webinar series, Magwa spoke of his unorthodox start as a student athlete.

After playing soccer at school he soon realised after registering as a student that Stellenbosch is rugby country, and so he started playing fifth-league Koshuis rugby.

“In 2010, I realised I wanted not only to better myself but also my koshuis team,” he related. “So I gate-crashed an Ian Campbell-Mc Geachy skills session meant only for the Maties rugby players. I hoped to be seen, but also to learn some skills I could share.”

Magwa joined the 2011 Maties Rugby trials, and was selected for the Maties u-21 team, but his 15-man rugby dreams came to an end in his Honours year in 2012, when he was based at the university’s Tygerberg campus.

“Because academics were my main focus I could not join any of the training sessions,” he said. “But then joined the Maties 7s set-up and had some of the best times ever. In 2014, I got injured and that was the end of my playing any kind of sport. However, it was also the start of another chapter at Maties Sport.”

Magwa stayed involved and helped where he could when able to walk easily, and started assisting the coaching team by picking up cones and other tasks. “I made an impression, and in 2015 ‘Miyagi’ (Campbell-Mc Geachy, Maties 7s coach) asked me to be his unofficial assistant coach. It was a no-brainer decision, because getting the opportunity to be mentored by such a coach couldn’t but be grabbed with both hands!”

In 2016, he became part of Maties Sport’s Centre for Human Sport Sciences as an intern, and in 2017 joined the Maties Sport High Performance Unit, and its head, Sean Surmon, gave his career a new direction.

Incidentally, it is this unit that produces the Maties Sport Connected Coaches webinar series where Magwa speaks of his journey. It is facilitated by its Manager for Sport Technology and Training Innovations, Grant van Velden, for Maties sport coaches, conditioning coaches and other key role-players to share their wisdom, insights and stories with a wide and diverse online audience.

Of the new direction his career was headed in, Magwa said: “Sean set me on the path of being a strength and conditioning coach.” Now working with student athletes full-time, he cannot emphasise enough how privileged they are.

“Now they have access to nutritional support, accommodation, performance psychology and the PACER programme, not to mention all the cool tech gadgets!”

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