Obakeng Maila is acutely aware of the changes that coming to school like King Edward VII has made in his life.
He comes from Orange Farm and attended township school in the Vaal Triangle and, in his own words, he was going nowhere. But he can bowl a cricket ball, fast, and that ability was spotted by the school’s Mr Gordon Matheson at a Gauteng trials session and the wheels were set in motion to make it possible for him to benefit from what this school has to offer.
Obakeng is clearly going places as a cricketer and the coaching and support he gets at the school has had a lot to do with that. For him, however, the greatest benefit to his cricket has been on a much more basic level.
“At my old school I could mostly do what I like. I could dress like I wanted and behave like I wanted,” he said. “When I came to King Edward that all changed and at first I didn’t like it. But now when I’m in my uniform and I look at myself in the mirror I think, I look like a gentleman.
“And if you look like a gentleman, you have to act like a gentleman, and then people start treating you like a gentleman. You start making an impression, people trust you, and opportunities come your way. That’s what being at this school has done for me and I will always be grateful to the TAG Foundation for that.”
Obakeng took 30 wickets for the first team last season and knows that if he loses some weight and gets his fitness levels up he can do even better. “I am aiming at making the Gauteng under-19 team at the end if the year, and I’m busy preparing already,” he said. That means going to nets at The Wanderers every Friday afternoon, and practicing at school any time he gets a chance.
“I’m playing rugby for the 6th team and I also need to spend a lot of time on my school work, so there aren’t too many opportunities, but i will get better when the pre-season officially starts.”
And school work is a challenge for him. “Things didn’t go well when I started off here last year and I only just passed grade 10. But the TAG Foundation and Mrs Gerber have been checking on me and things are going better now. She messages me after prep to ask me if I have done my work and does it so often I’ve realised that I need to get working to get her off my case,” he said. And he got a 60% average at the end of term one this year, so it’s working.
“I’ve been given a new chance by TAG and King Edward School. I have a responsibility to show them I deserved it,” Obakeng concluded.
He is certainly busy doing that.