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Remarkable PGCE student included in Deaf ICC Cricket World Cup Team
Author: E Els
Published: 06/03/2024

​Tjaart van der Walt was born completely deaf in both ears. He also has severe tunnel vision that impacts his ability to see and has a third condition that causes very bad balance problems. He can't obtain his drivers' licence and struggles to read because of his bad eyesight and is completely dependent on his hearing aids. Living independantly with these challenges is an achievement in itself. However, Van der Walt had bigger dreams. He didn't let his challenges stand in his way and after many years of dreaming and working hard, he completed his degree, pursues a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) and was included in the 2023 Deaf ICC Cricket World Cup Team. His life is an example of someone who perseveres with determination despite numerous challenges.

Van der Walt got introduced to cricket when he was in pre-primary and he didn't know how cricket worked. He loved throwing and catching balls and when the teacher bowled the ball, he ran to try and catch it. The batsman then hit him with the bat. This was his first encounter with cricket, but instead of being scared away, his love for the sport developed ever since. From a young age Van der Walt wanted to play for the Proteas and didn't know about deaf cricket. As he got older, he realised that playing for the Proteas seemed impossible and he was not even playing in A teams on school level. He learned about deaf cricket when he came to Stellenbosch to study and immediately felt a deep spark inside himself. “I saw the deaf SA team and thought by myself: The dream is alive!" After five years of training and hard work he got called up to the squad in 2022. However, he did not make the touring squad, but was a step closer. Finally in 2023 Van der Walt made the touring squad as an opening bowler for the Deaf ICC World Cup which was postponed to March this year. “After so many years of trying and dreaming, this is a feeling that I won't forget" he said. The Deaf ICC Cricket World Cup takes place in Dubai from 2 – 14 March 2024.

He completed his BComm Management Accounting degree in 2023 and decided to do a PGCE in 2024. “The question of doing a PGCE have always been in the background during my studies. I have a real love for children and for sport." In 2023 he had the privilege of being a net bowler at the Women's T20 World Cup and he realised that being part of a high performance environment as a manager, is his ultimate dream.  “My question was, how do I use the degree that I'm getting, to get to this job. The answer was school sports. I needed to go into the school environment and be part of the sport structure to gain experience to one day move up and achieve the goal of being a sport manager. Doing my PGCE was the logical option." 

A PGCE opens many doors and is one of the Faculty of Education's most popular postgraduate programmes. Students follow this programme after completing an appropriate Bachelor's degree such as BA, BSc or BComm, or after completing an appropriate Honours degree.

Van der Walt's dream is to represent South Africa for as long as possible on the cricket field. He also wants to become involved with big sporting teams and be in the sport management division. His short-term goal is to go into schools, teach accounting and be a sport coach. “One thing is for sure and that is that my passion lies with sport and I will pursue a career and that direction." He doesn't have a specific sport hero but is inspired by Dale Steyn (cricket) and Rafael Nadal's (tennis) fighting spirits. In every challenge he clings to his life motto that everything will work out.