Madibaz cricketers Matthew Christensen and Luphumlo Ncanywa say that careful planning of their overall commitments helped them to realise their dreams at Nelson Mandela University this year.
Christensen graduated with a BCom in business management and Ncanywa studied for a doctorate in chemistry, while they also made their mark on the cricket field.
Batsman Christensen played for the EP Amateur team and attended the national academy, while Ncanywa, also a batsman, hit a century in his first match for the varsity’s George campus side.
Born in Middledrift, Ncanywa, 32, said an interest in science led him to Nelson Mandela University.
“I enrolled for a BSc in chemistry in 2005, but I wasn’t doing so well,” he recalled. “Rather than quitting, someone during open day introduced me to polymer chemistry.
“Without informing my parents, I signed up for that and ended up obtaining that qualification.
“After working for a while I returned to studying in 2012 and met Prof Paul Watts. He introduced me to continuous flow chemistry and that has led to my doctorate.”
His advice to young students was to plan in advance to manage any obstacles.
“You need to understand that there will always be challenges to overcome, so you must plan accordingly. Also, you need to balance this with taking time out for some fun.”
The 23-year-old Christensen placed his emphasis on the first two years.
“First-year students should try to finish as many modules as you can as early as you can,” he said, adding that the challenges multiplied if you were considered for representative teams or academies.
“If you can get the bulk of your studies done in your early years, you will enjoy your sport much more as there won’t be as much pressure.”
Both cricketers underlined the importance of receiving support from parents and friends, as well as lecturers and Madibaz Sport management.
“The coaches and managers were very supportive,” said Christensen.
“A big thanks must go to [EP Senior Provincial coach] Piet Botha as he was always willing to assist if I had to leave a practice early.
“Mr Riaan Osman [Madibaz Sport deputy director] also played a tremendous role, helping me with the logistics off the field and the admin side of things for missing classes.
“That was essential to create harmony between sports and academics, while most lecturers were also understanding.”
Ncanywa reiterated Christensen’s views about the importance of having a support structure.
“There were always challenges on the academic front, but excelling was my number one priority so I relied heavily on the support I received from all quarters.”