Student in U20 Women’s Junior Springbok Rugby Squad
Ms Mary Zulu, a 19-year-old UKZN student, has been selected for the U20 Women’s Springbok rugby team.
Zulu, who also plays for UKZN and the Sharks, said qualifying for the Junior Springboks squad included being part of a training camp and playing in the Youth Training Centre (YTC) Games.
She started playing rugby with her brothers and sisters and later at her primary school. In Grade 9 Zulu joined a local team in Mandeni - where her home is - going on to be chosen for the Sharks squad.
She said her parents were proud of her achievements. ‘They have been pushing me to work hard so I can get to Springbok level because my goal is to make the South African team, play on the international stage and explore the world.’
Zulu was a member of the Bok team which played against Zimbabwe a few weeks ago, winning 55-0.
Excited and appreciative of the opportunity to represent her country, she said she was working towards qualifying for the Senior Springbok team next year.
Having faced a lot of adversity growing up, Zulu acknowledged Mr Lagleder Gerard and Mr Hayne Clarke, for being father figures to her, for being her support system and encouraging her, even through COVID-19. She says the challenges have made her achievement far more worthwhile, inspiring her to reach for the stars in her career.
Zulu thanked her fellow players and coaches for the impact they have had on her in what is a highly competitive sport.
As a second-year student doing a Sports Science degree she said she was grateful for a sports scholarship from the University. She says it is challenging at times playing for three different teams and trying to stay up to date with academic demands.
She aims to become a biokineticist and a coach while continuing with sport.
Zulu added that she was very aware of the importance of education and aimed to pursue her studies further.
UKZN Manager for Student Health and Sport Mr Mark Bashe said the Sports Division was excited about Zulu’s call to the Springboks U20 team.
He said: ‘We have been able to utilise the additional budget received from the Executive Management Committee towards improving our programmes and bettering the performance of our women’s sports teams. We hope to see more UKZN women’s rugby players being drafted up into the various national teams to join Mary and other UKZN alumni who are playing for the Springboks.’
Words: Hlengiwe Khwela
Photograph: Sethu Dlamini