For rugby captain Gorata Kgathi, donning a rugby jersey has been the hallmark of a sports life well cherished. The excitingly affable lady of sport has taken to rugby as a duck takes to water. Her journey from the days of playing the game of tennis to her sojourn at the seemingly masculine sport of rugby, is littered with amazing feats. Both good and those not so good.
“I started playing tennis when I was still at junior school. However, for me the game was boring mainly because it’s not a team sport. I really needed something that would change my perception of the sport world. While I was contemplating on which sport codes to pursue, Lady Luck took me to a unique playing field. The rugby field. It was one day during my varsity days that I came here and started watching the players going through their paces. Then, their coach, who is now my coach, Mark Wilson, saw me and asked if I could come and join them.”
She said the coach explained to her the nitty gritties of the game of rugby in a way that made it look so easy. She said it’s because of Wilson that she took the offer to take part and from then on, the game has become part of her life, literally. “The game builds confidence in a person,” she told this publication on the sidelines of an evening training session at the commerce park rugby grounds. “With rugby you feel so bossy. It toughens you in an amazing way. You also realise that it is more than a sport, it’s a place where you fish out for friendships and you socialize and learn more than you would ever do at any school establishment.”
She said her view of the sport is that it opens horizons about culture and human diversity. “It is a very multi-cultural sport. You may remember that for many years the sport had an inclination towards men and it was openly viewed as a man sport. Women, it seemed, where sidelined for a very long time. Not just in sport, but in many respects in life in general.”
However, when Gorata started venturing in the game, she had a number of detractors, her mother and sister included. “They were not too sure and they suggested I play indoor sports instead. But they finally gave in and allowed me to follow my heart.” Her dearest wish is if at all she was to become the president of the country by any stroke of chance, she would allow all the girls in her country to play any sport of their choice without batting an eye.
For me the confidence that has become part of my lifestyle is all because of rugby, “I owe it all to rugby,” she emphasised. With the game I have learnt to love and to make sacrifices. Passion drives all of us and I would encourage all the people to follow their passion. I followed mine and here I am,’ she bragged.
Her much revered life motto is a quote from- Ralph Waldo Emerson which reads: “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” On her role as the captain for the Hogs ladies team, Gorata says she encounters numerous pressure to lead by example. However, she is grateful for the support that she gets from the management of the club both the men, ladies and the seniors. Her feeling is that the sport is not as yet getting the magnitude it deserves, the type of recognition that other sports codes are getting. “They should give rugby a chance,” she lamented. “We need Batswana and government support. We also need a stadium that is dedicated to the game of rugby like all the other codes. All rugby players want to see professionalism in the sport. Rugby should be topical at Kgotla meeting the way national events carry the day at these august places. And above all, it must also become a national pastime to take school going toddlers and learners of any age alike to nationally constituted rugby clinics.”
A trained teacher and aspiring news reporter in her own right, Gorata Kgathi, who has been the ladies rugby team captain for two years, is a really a marvel to watch barking orders to her charges. She thrives on excellence and defeat is not her middle name. The Ladies team had not seen many wins of late and this sort of dampens her resolve to go the extra mile. However, as a toughened leader, she just hopes that tomorrow will be different and she takes everything in her strides, one game at a time