For this Shark, life’s a beach

2012-09-08 00:00

HE was born and bred in Durban, so it’s no surprise that the Sharks’ assistant coach, Grant Bashford, finds solace, wisdom, peace and inspiration when on the beach.

As he readily admits, “Coaching is an up-and-down business and you never know the true result until the final whistle stops the scoreboard moving. There’s good and bad mixed with plenty of stress, and the beach is the perfect surrounding to gather my wits, grasp the situation and plan the way forward.”

Sport is Bashford’s bread and butter. He is one of a unique breed of sportsmen who was able to play provincial cricket and rugby in the days when cricket was played in summer and rugby in winter.

“I turned out for Natal [as the cricket side was known then] when Peter Rawson was captain and Clive Barker the fitness coach. We had a solid team then and it was the time when Jonty Rhodes, Shaun Pollock, Dale Benkenstein and Lance Klusener launched their careers. The late great West Indian, Malcolm Marshall, was part of the set-up, and it’s thanks to him that the aforementioned youngsters achieved so much in their cricketing lives,” he said.

On the rugby front, Bashford played second fiddle to Kevin Putt at scrumhalf, but earned one cap and was on the bench for the 1993 Currie Cup final against the Lions in Durban.

As the Sharks assistant coach, people are used to seeing Bashford subdued, somewhat frustrated and according to his wife, Wendy, “losing his hair” in the coach’s cubicle on match day, next to the man in charge, John Plumtree. While acknowledging his passion for coaching and how fortunate he is to be in such a position, it was teaching that Bashing originally pursued after matriculating at Northwood.

“After four years at Edgewood Training College and a year in the army, I returned to my alma mater to teach physical education and maths, staying for 13 years. In that time, I started my passion for coaching, and besides cricket and rugby at school, I coached the Crusaders U21 and first teams. Then I was asked to assist with the junior teams at KZN Rugby Union, and this, in time, led to an approach to be part of the union’s training courses.

“Dick Muir asked me to be assistant coach in 2006 and after him, I joined Plum,” he said.

Away from rugby, Bashford is the SA braai champion — albeit self-appointed — enjoying social time with a circle of solid friends outside rugby circles. He’s also a mean curry maker, keeping with the Durban spirit of making it hot, with plenty of chillies. A beer man, he occasionally steps up to vodka and coke.

When it comes to music, TV and movies, his tastes are catholic, but he is no sci-fi or alien fan.

Said Bashford: “I listen to all types of music, whatever is doing the rounds on the radio. If I put in a CD, it’s along the lines of Deacon Blue, Bob Marley, Billy Joel, Phil Collins, Simply Red — nothing too loud and dramatic. Obviously sport dominates my TV schedule, but a bit of CSI and nature programmes does no harm. Thrillers, suspense and comedy are my movie choices.”

He has been married to Wendy for 15 years, and the couple have three boys — Dale (12), Ben (seven) and Mitch (two). They enjoy their sport, but perhaps not as much as Dad does.

Wendy says there are times when Bashford hauls out his guitar and after a few twangs thinks he’s Jack Johnson, but there are no plans for any big concerts in Durban soon.

Said Bashford: “Sport and the outdoors are my life. Bronze Beach in Umhlanga is my favourite spot where I was a lifeguard for 13 years. I enjoy scuba diving, deep-sea fishing, have bungee-jumped at Vic Falls and run seven Two Oceans Marathons. Surprisingly, golf doesn’t do it for me and I play mainly because I have to.

“Reading is a big part of my life, especially sport biographies and motivational books. Wendy and I have travelled to Mauritius, Seychelles and USA among other places, and she is used to my travelling during rugby season, although we try to be home as often as possible during the Currie Cup season.

“I’m living my passion and dream, but I never forget the importance of friends and family, those people who will listen, advise and share in your ups and downs. Those who support you and carry you on your path through life,” said Bash.

• david.knowles@witness.co.za

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