Stellenbosch University
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A day in the life: Zukhanye Magwa 
Author: Corporate Communications and Marketing
Published: 23/05/2023

​As a young boy Zukhanye Magwa made up his mind: he was going to study at Stellenbosch University (SU). Today, the former student athlete and coach is a dedicated sports manager at SU who provides administrative and management support to various sport codes assigned by the Chief Director at Maties Sport. As we kicked off May commemorating Workers’ Day, we dedicate this series of articles to our staff and their important contribution to SU. In the interview below, Magwa tells us more about his work. 

Could you explain your role at SU?   

My responsibilities include ensuring compliance with SU and Maties Sport regulations, overseeing the daily operations of sport clubs, and fostering a culture of participation, sportsmanship, professionalism, and respect across all levels. I collaborate with all operational units of Maties Sport to support the plans of individual sport clubs that I manage and align them with the strategic objectives of Maties Sport.   


What does a typical day at work look like?   

As a sports manager my days are filled with a variety of tasks and interactions, making each day an exciting journey. It all usually starts with an early morning gym session, where I prioritise my own fitness and well-being before diving into the day’s responsibilities. I then make my way to the office, where I touch base with my Maties Sport colleagues. These interactions help us stay connected, share updates, and align our efforts towards our common goals.  

Once settled in, my primary focus is coordinating the flow of incoming and outgoing correspondence between the sporting codes I manage and stakeholders. This involves ensuring that everyone is kept informed, and their needs are addressed promptly.  

Throughout the day, I meet with students, engaging with them not only about their academic but also their sporting programmes and general well-being. These conversations allow me to support and guide them to the relevant units and support systems that SU and Maties Sport have to offer.  

Collaboration is essential in my role, so I regularly meet with my SU and Maties Sport colleagues to discuss operational matters. This ensures that we are aligned in our approach, and any necessary adjustments or improvements are made smoothly.  

To have a first-hand understanding of the practical delivery of our programmes and training sessions, I make a point of visiting the clubs regularly. By being present on the ground, I can assess the effectiveness of our initiatives and gain a better understanding of the club members and staff that I manage.  

Evaluation, monitoring, and reporting are integral aspects of my job. I continuously assess and analyse all core areas of the sport codes I manage, including performance, participation, and compliance. This information is compiled into reports, allowing me to provide insights, identify areas for improvement, and make informed decisions for the future.  

As the day draws to a close, I reflect on the progress made and take note of any outstanding tasks or follow-ups. I ensure that loose ends are tied up and that the next day is well planned to maximise productivity.   

How did your education or past experiences prepare you for this role?   

Having been a student athlete at SU, a coach for a sports team, and a strength and conditioning coach in the Maties Sport High Performance Unit, I consider myself fortunate to have had such diverse experiences. These experiences, coupled with my master's degree in sport science, have played a crucial role in preparing me for my current position.  

One of the unique advantages I bring to the table is my first-hand experience as a student athlete. I have personally gone through the journey of balancing academics and sport, understanding the challenges and demands that come with it. This perspective allows me to empathise with the student athletes I work with and provide meaningful support to help them navigate their own journeys successfully.  

In addition to my student athlete background, I have also had the privilege of coaching a sports team. This role has provided me with valuable insights into the intricacies of team dynamics, strategy development, and the importance of fostering a positive and cohesive environment. Through my coaching experience, I have gained a deep understanding of the dedication, discipline, and teamwork required to achieve success both on and off the field.   

What do you enjoy most about your role and working at SU?   

I enjoy that I get to serve the student-athletes and the fact that I now have an opportunity to help foster their growth holistically as well as to try and give them as enjoyable a student experience as I had at SU.  

Tell us something exciting or interesting about yourself that few people would expect?    

At the age of 12, I decided that I was going to study at SU, having never visited or been to the Western Cape, after watching an interview on TV with an SU student. The funny thing about it was that it was all in Afrikaans, and I did not speak or understand a word. Now, in 2023, I am still here, loving it although in a different capacity, all thanks to 12-year-old Zukhanye Magwa.