Former WP captain shares wisdom at the first Captains Corner

Maties Sport had the honour of hosting the first Captain’s Corner with guest speaker Chris van Zyl, the objective of the forum is to provide Maties Sport captains and vice-captains from various sporting codes with a new understanding of leadership and how to implement this within their respective teams.

Having guest speakers who have led teams and have an understanding of the University sport environment and high-performance codes is necessary.  All the guest speakers that are lined up for the sessions to follow have played sports for Maties, graduated with their degrees, and captained a team. Therefore Chris van Zyl was a top choice, he received his B.Acc Honours at Stellenbosch University, represented Maties in the 2011 Varsity Cup, and consequently became a captain for the Western Province Rugby team.

The discussion was based on the responsibility of being a leader, and his insight on how he managed to balance academics and playing sport. The former Stormers captain managed this exceptionally well while obtaining a degree and playing in the most anticipated rugby tournament the FNB Varsity Cup. He admits that it was not always easy, but hard work and determination always pushed him to be the best he could be. 

“Chris shared with the group that he found huge benefit in really getting to know his team mates well.  Building trusting and strong relationships with his teammates was a fundamental part of how he captained the teams he was put in charge of,” says Grant van Velden, Manager: Sport Technology and Training Innovations at Maties Sport. 

Chris also emphasised how important it is to spend time with his teammates and to have fun, outside of the sport. He says it helped him with building relationships with his teammates outside the training facilities.

The room was filled with thirteen Maties captains and vice-captains, from their respective sporting codes such as football, basketball, hockey, cricket, netball, and water polo. 

The turnout was better than expected due to the academic pressures the student-athletes are under currently. Grant Van Velden, who facilitated the Captain’s Corner says they are looking to host the next captain’s corner next semester after the return of the students from their June/July holidays.  

“I think that the Captains Corner gives our team sport captains the opportunity to engage with one another, something that has not really happened in the past, and share ideas and solutions to problems from their different environments”, says Van Velden.

These sessions will allow captains and vice-captains to leave with new knowledge that they can apply practically to their teams when they may be facing hardship.

Maties Sport looks forward to hosting more Captains Corners, the plan is to have alumni Keenan Horne the vice-captain of the South African Hockey Men’s team as well as professional cyclist Mariske Strauss to present at these sessions during the course of the year.

By Jamie Wyngaardt