Will Wedgwood on coaching rugby and cricket for 6 weeks in South Africa
I can’t describe my experiences at UTS anything shorter than incredibly amazing. Heading out to the school fields, even though it was never much of a field. Knowing I had the opportunity to have a huge impact on the kids’ lives gave me a huge motivation to teach as much as I could. Having played rugby overseas in New Zealand, and coaching similar ages back in England. The work effort, enjoyment and value I saw in the kids was something I’d never seen before and made me not want to leave when it came to the end of my stay.
Having played every sport I could fit into my diary in a normal school week when I was younger and just having those opportunities which I often took for granted. Finding out that Sports education wasn’t part of the school curricular in South Africa, I wanted to make a change. I’ve taken the values and disciplines in rugby from the pitch into my everyday life and have experienced how useful those skills have been to me. Passing on skills such as work ethic, commitment, teamwork, healthy lifestyles, accompanied with a little bit of blood, sweat and tears which never really hurts. I saw kids develop new attitudes over a few weeks. Saw them become eager to listen, eager to get better, and watched them smile and laugh when they realise they were developing and doing something they once couldn’t. I thought it was so important to provide the environment for them to have fun and enjoy themselves after hearing and experiencing so many situations of sadness and no real freedom of expression. UTS goes beyond just being a coach and beyond just playing sport. Being there to ask questions, be interested in the child and being someone older who they can comfortably talk to without judgement or fear. The opportunity you have when you arrive at UTS should not be underestimated or taken for granted. Be a role model, be a leader, be somebody who is going to make a positive impact. I found the more effort I put in the more I enjoyed it and the more I also got out of the it.
Since leaving the project I’ve stayed in contact with a lot of the other coaches and have certainly made a few friends I’ll keep for life. I’ve also spent a lot of time talking to people about UTS, about my daily life in Port Elizabeth and how I enjoyed my experience and high recommendation that they should do something like it too. It really was an eye-opening experience which I will value forever. I look forward to returning to UTS soon. I’m itching to get back out there.