Top player Jason le Roux was on the verge of accepting a job at UCT in Cape Town when an opening in Port Elizabeth allowed him to continue his role as Madibaz squash mentor.
The 37-year-old had completed his honours in sport science at Nelson Mandela University when he was offered the position of UCT squash coach from 2015.
“However, in December  an opportunity opened up at the Eastern Cape Academy of Sport, where I did my internship during my honours year,” Le Roux said.
“I was fortunate to get that position and am now the acting co-ordinator for the Madibaz High Performance Centre at Nelson Mandela University.”
As a player for the varsity, Le Roux took over the coaching position when former Eastern Province player Richard Driscoll decided to leave.
“At that stage Richard was happy to move on and asked me if I would mind taking over the coaching of Madibaz squash,” said Le Roux. “Since 2013 I have officially been coaching Madibaz Squash and been the chairperson for the squash club.”
Squash plays a big part in his life, but he acknowledged that the top priority for student-athletes was academics.
“As a mentor I want them to see that squash is a sideline to their future and studies,” he said. “But that does not mean you can’t give it your all on the court.
“I want players to create memories, stories and pride in themselves about what they achieved, both individually and for the team.
“Also the balance [with studies] is essential and the networking and what you learn from competition and training and how it develops you are vital.”
Le Roux said the Eastern Cape region was blessed with considerable squash talent. Madibaz have gone through several years of success under his leadership.
From 2012 to 2015 they won the men’s Super league, a title they also claimed in 2017 and this year. They won the men’s first league title from 2012 to 2017, while the women’s team have been crowned first league winners in the past two years.
“There are plenty of exciting young players, but the struggle is to keep them in the Eastern Cape and to get them to study at Nelson Mandela University,” said Le Roux.
“At the moment four of our top five men and four women achieved top 10 rankings at schools level.
“But varsity squash is different and the maturity level and disciplined training takes over, so you don’t always have the top juniors coming through.”
As the team’s No 1 player, Le Roux said he definitely tried to “lead by example”.
“It’s the best way to influence younger students,” he said. “Seeing them wanting to be the best they can be while continuing with varsity and their futures is very encouraging.”