UP celebrates the beginning of a new era for TuksSport High School

Posted on October 08, 2014

Prof Cheryl de la Rey, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Pretoria (UP), turned the sod at the start of construction of a new building for TuksSport High School at the University of Pretoria’s LC de Villiers Sports Grounds. This milestone, made possible by a donation from the Athletics Foundation Trust, was celebrated by the staff from UP’s High Performance Centre and TuksSport.

TuksSport High School comes from lowly beginnings. Founded 13 years ago, it has finally realised its dream of having its own building and its own ethos. The school is currently being housed at Groenkloof Campus and will become a proper school next year with accommodation facilities with 96 beds, 12 classrooms, four laboratories, a dining hall and an amphitheatre.  

During 13 years of its existence, the school has achieved a 100% matric pass rate for all but one year. Hettie de Villiers, the principal of TuksSport High School, said achieving good academic results is as important for the leaners as it is to excel on the different sports fields. ‘It is even more important to achieve good academic results because there are never any guarantees in sports as the career of a sports star could be ended abruptly due to an injury. That is when it is important to have a good academic qualification to fall back on,’ she said. 

The school has produced athletes who have made contributions in different South African sports arenas.  Banyana Banyana star, Portia Modise, and former Orlando Pirates midfielder, Andile Jali, are among the soccer stars groomed at TuksSport High School. Another former learner making it into the international scene is Wian Sullwald, who became the junior world triathlon champion the year after he matriculated from the school. 

From left to right: Toby Sutclife (CEO: High Performance Centre), Rose Juby (Athletics Foundation Trust), Prof Cheryl de la Rey (Vice-Chancellor and Principal: UP), Dana Lazarus (Athletic Foundation Trust), Bruce Fordyce (Athletics Foundation Trust), and Hettie de Villiers (Principal: TuksSport High School)

Rose Juby from the Athletics Foundation Trust said they are inspired by a vision and a strong desire to give young people who would not otherwise have had such an opportunity, a real chance in life. ‘The programme focuses on giving youngsters access to a solid education, with an athletics “twist”. There is also a strong desire to see South Africa represented on the world stage in different athletic events,’ she said.  

She further said that, in order for the Athletics Foundation Trust to realise its vision, it had to find an ideal institution with the requisite skills and facilities already in place. After careful consideration of numerous options, the TuksSport High School and the University’s high performance centre were selected. ‘Our partnership with the University of Pretoria has brought our vision into reality relatively quickly. There has been a commitment from the University to bring this vision into reality and we have no doubt that we have made the right call in placing the programme here,’ she said. 

The Athletics Foundation Trust is in its first year with its pilot group of athletes and there an incredible difference has already been made in the lives of young athletes.  

Prof Cheryl de la Rey expressed her gratitude to the Athletics Foundation Trust and described the partnership as the realisation of a bright future for many young talented athletes across the country. She said that the University of Pretoria shares the same vision as the Athletics Foundation Trust because of its commitment in offering holistic educational development that is inclusive of sport. ‘Education in its holistic sense is really about the education of the total person, not only the cognitive and the intellectual part, but it goes beyond the classroom and [also] focuses on the physical. Therefore, the development of education in a holistic way is a shared value for both the University of Pretoria and the Trust. That is the philosophy behind the partnership we have forged,’ she said. 

- Author DUR

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