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July 09 , 2007


How South African Sport Leaders Cultivate Excellence


At 34, Heyneke Meyer was fired as head coach of a Super Rugby team for the second time. But when on 19 May 2007 his Bulls side became the first South African team to capture the Super title, the dark years at Loftus Versfeld were suddenly forgotten. And Meyer was regarded as the coach among coaches. Because it is there – on the playing field – that coaches and players are judged. And yet the scoreboard never tells the full story of how people achieved success overnight'. In Meyer's case it was an arduous journey of more than seven years during which he defined and changed professional rugby. This is leadership. And leadership is what Coach is about – people who have fundamentally changed a sport, an industry, a way of thinking, and, ultimately, lives. Marco Botha sat in conversation with some of South Africa's foremost sports leaders and interprets their diverse success stories in his narrative writing style. From Meyer to Brendan Venter, who helped turn Saracens into a super club and the Sharks into the 2013 Currie Cup champions. As an international hockey player, Sherylle Calder noticed something special' about her own visual abilities and researched this together with Professor Tim Noakes. The Eye Lady' was instrumental in England (2003) and South Africa (2007) winning the Rugby World Cup and Ernie Els bagging his second British Open golf title in 2012. Former Springbok Sevens coach Paul Treu advanced rugby sevens as a world sport by regularly getting his team to tower above seemingly superior sides. One innovation at a time. Gary Kirsten and Paddy Upton guided the Indian national cricket team to glory with a leadership style that empowered players and developed them as human beings – the new school' of coaching. With the same approach they helped the Proteas become the number one team in the world in all three formats of the game. These remarkable leaders have made champions out of ordinary people. And the reasons for this will certainly surprise you . . .
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