Duma 'still an inspiration'

2012-05-04 00:00

DESPITE his tragic early death, Sibusiso Duma will remain an inspiration to his community and a poster boy for individual brilliance.

These were the worlds of Ulrich Schmid-Maybach, the founder and the president of the Maybach Foundation that sponsored Duma, a young polo player from the Lidgetton area near Howick, to further his skill in polo abroad.

Duma began his polo career in the farmlands of the Midlands, and through dedication and hard work gained international prominence travelling and playing polo around the world — including against princes William and Harry in England.

He was stabbed to death on Tuesday in what his family believe was jealousy over a woman.

Schmid-Maybach said the attack was senseless and tragic. “It is a great loss to the family, to his community and the polo game and to the people that he met.

“When I received the news on Tuesday, I was distraught; even now I am still trying to deal with this news. We understood that he had already left South Africa and apparently he had not, due to a glitch with his visa.”

Schmid-Maybach was full of praise for Duma, whom he met three years ago. He travelled to South Africa mainly to meet him after hearing him lauded by his mentor, Dieter Rowe-Setz, and on the BBC. He was the first athlete whom the foundation sponsored.

“After we received the letter requesting support, we asked the Lions River Polo association and the SA Polo association to check him out, and we received rave reviews.”

Recalling their first meeting, Schmid-Maybach said Duma was wearing a dusty blazer and shoes with no socks. But it was his personality, politeness and contagious smile that impressed him as at that point he had not seen him play.

“He was a charming young man. He was a great individual and had great personality. He inspired and he will continue to inspire individual brilliance.”

He rated Duma as one of the biggest finds of the foundation. On its website, Duma’s picture is among those of the foundation’s top achievers that adorn the banner.

He said the first time he saw Duma play polo, he was impressed.

“The man rode like the wind; he would take on guys that were bigger than him, that were more experienced than him.

“When he was in Argentina, he integrated into the community well, and that I believe came from his upbringing and discipline,” said Schmid-Maybach.

Police yesterday said no arrests had yet been made in connection with Duma’s murder.

• thamsanqam@witness.co.za

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