‘New ways’ to manage sport

2020-05-19 06:02
Mandla Gagayi, director of sport at the University of the Western Cape. PHOTO: Melissa Awu

Mandla Gagayi, director of sport at the University of the Western Cape. PHOTO: Melissa Awu

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Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, all Varsity Sports were postponed until 2021.

Mandla Gagayi, director of sport at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), says a few winter tournaments were planned for University Sport South Africa (USSA) for July, with some in September, including Varsity Sports competitions such as soccer, netball, basketball and cricket.

“All these events have been suspended and there are no replacement competitions due to the current lockdown, which I believe may go up to December. As such, it is our responsibility as sports administrators to respect the lockdown regulations and not try and force matters and risk lives of our student-athletes. In order to keep fit, each student-athlete has been provided with a training programme and their coaches are in constant contact with them to keep track and advise,” he says.

The impact of the lockdown meant no sport will be played and the players are all disappointed about the decision.

“However, they all understand that their safety is paramount. All they have to do now is focus on their studies and exercises, and believe that there will still be sport after the lockdown. We are also fortunate that we have a wonderful free counselling service at UWC which all students can make use of via a toll-free line should they struggle to deal with the anxiety of academics and/or sport.

“I also don’t believe there will be any sport during the month of June, at least not here in South Africa. But I will be keen to watch any sport on television just to learn and keep busy. I also believe we all need to use this non-sporting period to reflect and also think about new ways of managing sport,” Gagayi says.

His advice to all students is to keep in mind this lockdown is not the end of life but for now, they must stay safe and healthy and keep on training.

“Each student must use this time to reflect on what they have achieved so far and what they want their future to look like. This is also a time to focus on yourself by focusing on things that matter without any undue pressure from friends. Each student has to establish a routine for studies and exercise, and always believe that this is just a phase and we must all be ready to face new challenges after lockdown,” he says.

He is not planning anything special after the lockdown has been lifted, but he will definitely have a braai with his UWC sports colleagues just to reconnect and appreciate getting back to doing what they love.

Gagayi is not only giving advice to the students to train, but is also keeping himself fit and healthy at home.

“We have a family routine, we get up and exercise in our home gym, my wife and I help the kids with their schoolwork while we also attend to our jobs, whether it is attending to e-meetings or doing administration. I also use this time to attend to my master’s research. I am in daily contact with my sports administrators to ensure that everyone is up to date with their duties. I also receive reports from coaches every Monday morning giving updates on the progress of their players and also highlighting areas and individuals that need my support,” Gagayi says.

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