Mangaliso Ncunca is only in grade 8, but he is already dreaming of the day when he can wear the red school first team jersey and get the incredible support from everyone that he sees at Reds games on Saturdays.
“I came here because the school offered me an opportunity to achieve my goals and one of the first things I realised was that playing for the Reds one day is a major goal for me,” he said.
Mangaliso was noticed at the Primary Schools Craven Week playing for the Griffons last year and was invited to come to see the school. “I came to the KES experience and knew straight away that I wanted to be at this school. I knew that my grandmother, who I live with, could never afford to send me here, but Mr Van Vuuren told me that the TAG Foundation can help me, and that has changed my life. I get everything I need from the foundation and that has allowed me to dream about playing for the Reds one day.”
Mangaliso is a talented sportsman. He was part of the school’s elite athletics programme in the first term where he did the 400m and long jump and he is a centre in the under-14A rugby team.
“We are developing into a good team, I think. Not everyone had played rugby before, and none of us knew each other, so it has taken a bit of time for us to get to know each other and play as a team. We have only lost one game so far, 27-12 to Affies, but I think we can do even better.
“This is a good environment to go to school, and to play rugby in and I am very gad that I decided to come here.”
Hostel life suits Mangaliso “You are living independently, which is very different from home where we had to share everything,” he said. “Here you are responsible for yourself, you have to make a plan, although thee are always lots of other boys around. I am enjoying it.
Mangaliso describes his academic work as “not bad”, but admits that is can be a lot better. “We have a system of matric mentors in the hostel and they are helping me a lot. Damien Bonhagen-Kuhn Koen has taken me under his wing and he helps me a lot, with my school work, especially Afrikaans, and with how to handle myself as a KES boy.”
The thing that has really impressed him is the brotherhood in the school. “No matter what you do, there are people there supporting you. That motivates me and makes me want to do well to repay them for their support.”
And, he stresses, the best way to repay them would be to score tries for the Reds one day.