Madibaz rugby prop Tembelihle Yase has demonstrated how important hard work and a good support base are by excelling on the field and in the lecture room at Nelson Mandela University.
However, this was not achieved without some worrying times when his funding dried up after a contract with Eastern Province Rugby was terminated in 2015.
The 25-year-old graduate, who is doing his master’s in marketing, was deeply concerned about his future at that time.
“Fortunately, my mother and friends gave me massive support, both emotionally and financially,” he said.
“It was a really challenging period, but I was awarded NSFAS [National Student Financial Aid Scheme] funding in 2016 and was able to come through thanks to the backing of my family and friends.”
Not surprisingly, he said ubuntu, a South African term that means showing humanity to others, was an important lesson he had learnt.
“In addition, hard work and staying true to yourself are two of the other biggest lessons for me at varsity,” said Yase, who matriculated from Cambridge High in East London in 2013.
After doing some research at high school, the prop said his personality and the marks he achieved in matric suggested he study marketing at a tertiary level.
His academic efforts saw him graduate with a marketing diploma in 2016, a BTech in marketing in 2017 and a BCom in finance and marketing in 2019. This led to his master’s course, which he began last year.
Besides the support he received on a personal front, Yase acknowledged the high level of mentoring provided at Nelson Mandela University, both in the lecture room and on the sports field.
He was an important player for the first team this year as they topped the combined log from the 2019 and 2020 Varsity Shield seasons to gain promotion to the top-flight Varsity Cup next year.
Yase insists he is no superstar, just someone who has worked hard to manage the demands of completing his academic commitments and fulfilling his dreams on the rugby field.
“The key to my balance in academics and sports is humility,” explained the prop.
“I understand that anything you love can be taken away from you suddenly, just like that. So I always apply myself to give my absolute best effort academically and in rugby.”