Madibaz football star Cloudius Sagandira is one of a number of Nelson Mandela University student-athletes who have shown they can combine sporting skill with academic excellence.
He is one of 70 Madibaz Sport graduates who obtained their qualifications in December and April, joining other high-profile athletes such as swimming twins Alard and Alaric Basson and athletics star Ischke Senekal.
Sagandira, who received a doctorate in chemistry, said he embraced the challenges he faced in the lecture halls and on the sports fields, adding in a message to aspiring students that it was all about hard work.
“In terms of first-years it is about setting your goals and getting your priorities right,” he said.
“With the right sort of determination, hard work, passion, commitment, self-discipline and, above all, God’s grace, anything is achievable.”
The demanding work he put in during his extensive laboratory research was balanced by the release he received on the training ground.
“After a heavy day indoors I used to refresh at soccer training in the evening,” said Sagandira.
“Besides that, football really helped build my character, determination, competitiveness and discipline, as well as a sense of responsibility. It brought out the best in me.”
Shot put and discus exponent Senekal has qualified with an honours degree in education and said neither sphere was more important than the other.
“My approach was to do both to the best of my abilities even if it meant less sleep for me,” said the Uitenhage-based athlete.
She added that her mantra was to “believe you can achieve”.
“My message to aspiring sports stars is to always test your limits and strive to make your weaknesses your strengths.
“Keep on believing that you can achieve anything you put your mind to.”
The Basson swimming twins, who are doing postgraduate degrees in construction management, said finding a balance between work and play was essential to succeeding at university.
“As a student it’s so easy to get yourself caught up in study stress and pressures that you forget to take a breath or a mental break,” said Alard.
“Taking time out to relax, and feeding your mind positive thoughts before taking on the next task, is crucial.
“As a sportsman you cannot do what the rest are doing, so associate yourself with students with a similar drive.
“The best advice I got was to enjoy the journey as far as possible instead of just focusing on the destination.”
Alaric said a focus on doing well in both fields helped him to manage the challenges he faced.
“It was never possible for me to really enjoy the ‘varsity life’ to the fullest, but my desire to achieve in both kept me motivated,” he said.
“Having achieved both in my sport and academically over the past few years has been rewarding and all the sacrifices have paid off and still are.”