We chat to Adrian Norris, Tournament Director of the St John’s College International Schools’ Golf Tournament, about the event and why it's important for learners to be involved in competitive sports.
The event tees off today at the Sun City Resort in the North West, where 32 teams, including one from Zimbabwe and one from the UK, will be competing for top honours. The ninth annual St John’s College International Schools’ Golf Tournament, sponsored by FNB, will be played over four days at the resort. We find out from Norris why it was necessary for St John’s to host such an event.
How do you decide which school to get involved?
We would like to try to get all the top playing sporting schools. Where you’d normally have 12 sports playing schools in a tournament, here we have 32 from all over the country. We send out invites for schools to enter and then go through a selection process where only 32 out of about 50 schools would be chosen to play. We also have the FNB Invitation Side, made up of three boys from Soweto. So, what’s also unique about the tournament is that it makes it possible for non-sport playing schools to compete against sporting schools. For example, it makes it possible for schools such as Fourways High to play against schools such as Grey – something that wouldn’t normally happen. We don’t want to ostracise any schools, while we also ensure that all schools participating understand the ethos.
What does golf – as a game add – that other sports can’t?
There are many other tournaments for sports such as cricket and rugby, but we thought there was a gap in the market for golf. It’s obviously a single-minded game and there was a niche in the market for this. It was started by a very passionate school headmaster, who has now emigrated to the UK, and the idea was that boys should compete against each other on the same level as they would in a rugby field.
What are the advantages of playing competitive sports for learners?
From a health perspective, kids are out there in the outdoors and it’s a healthy lifestyle. Secondly, it’s teaches them how to win and how to lose in a controlled environment. They also learn how to communicate and compete with others at different levels.
Do you also teach them how to accept failure in sport?
They all play to win, but I read something by a professional golfer who said “playing golf is learning how to come second because you lose every time”. We all know that celebrated golfers such as Tiger Woods and Ernie Els have also had their share of losses. Certainly, our priority from an educational point of view is get all those aspects right – teaching them how to win and how to handle coming second best.
How many sport codes would you encourage a learner to participate in on average?
They’d normally be involved in a winter sport and a summer sport. We have a couple of boys who are playing professional cricket at the moment – so it could be two winter sports and two summer sports for some while others would play a third sport.
Are they ever affected by burnout?
I think they’re, but I think burnout has a lot to do with the structures around them – including family and friends. A lot of these guys come to realise at an earlier age, before turning professional, that they need buddies. So, I think burnout is a natural progression.
What advice would you give to parents who’d like their kids to cultivate talent in sport?
I’d suggest that they expose their kids to the best opportunities available to them. But I would warn them not to interfere. I think that’s one of the biggest things when parents try to live for their children – that’s probably where a lot of the burnout come from. I would say a good balance, exposure and support when necessary are the best you can do for your kids.