Moving from primary to high school is never easy and, for Lebo Selahla, it was a nervous start to his life at King Edward VII School. “I was worried about the older boys and about how I would fit in,” he said. “And it was tough at first, but I decided: I am here, I know what’s expected of me and I won’t be distracted from what I want to achieve. After that, things have gone much better.”
He puts it down to the friends he has made and to the support he is getting from different places. “I played basketball when I arrived and it started there, we became a tight unit in the under-14C team and we didn’t lose a game.
“I found the school work difficult and didn’t do so well at the end of the first term, but I’ve been given help since then and things are much better now.”
And the help he’s been getting in English – his weakest subject – is coming from an unexpected place: a grade 9 boy at the school. “My hostel master put me in touch with him. He’s brilliant at English and I spend time with him every week. Now I’m passing English.”
Lebo was spotted at a rugby day while in primary school where he showed great leadership and asked to apply. “I was told to watch a video on the school website and we came here during the Easter Festival last year to look around. I knew straight away I wanted to be here,” he said.
His parents are not well off, so the TAG Foundation stepped in and offered financial support.
The fields and building and the neatness of the boys impressed him, he says, but it was the obvious respect that people showed that really made a mark on him. “It was so different to what happened in my primary school and I knew it was what I needed.”
He came to the school with rugby expectations placed on him and he is delivering. He plays prop for the under-14As and they have had a very successful season so far. He admits that he is not very big but believes he is strong enough to be a good forward.
“The important thing about rugby is that it has shown me the King Edward brotherhood,” he says. “We have only been together for a few months, but you can feel that we are together. We work well as a team and everyone gets on. It’s as if everyone realises we will be spending the next five years together so we had better become brothers. That’s already happening.”
What a take on the value of team sport from a 14 year-old! We’ll be watching Lebo Selhahla’s progress with interest.