ASIDLALENI ‘MAKHEHLA’…OUR 2016 ANNUAL SPORTS DAY

Probably the gift that we will always treasure in all our lives is the gift of being childlike, that means the ability to play.  3 September 2016 was a bright sunny day in Pretoria, one could tell as soon as one opened one’s eyes-from the block or from the multi-million rand ‘residence’ that is was going to be a day unlike any other…it was St John Vianney’s annual sports day!

One has to remember that this is not just a day where the seminarians run around playing sports, no; it’s a day that people look forward to as early as February even though it always takes place in September. This is because it has something that the human eye can never fathom, it’s not just the love…it’s not just the excitement…it’s not even the point that there will be no classes, it’s the point, actually, that seminarians get a chance to play together.  Fr. PT Manci [our rector] pointed out something that I found quite interesting and that was the fact that the seminary is a very tense place and he is actually right because if you are not doing an assignment-you are doing manual work, if you are not doing manual work-you are doing pastoral work, and if you are not doing pastoral work…well you are taking a siesta; hence I say this day was different because it was a day where we were just meant to play, and oh boy did we play!

The day started with the celebration of the Eucharist by Fr. Ncedo who was wearing a rather very flamboyant chasuble as we were celebrating the feast day of St. Pope Gregory the Great and one could already tell in the singing that something powerful was expected.  Immediately after the recessional hymn there was the ceremonial raising of the flags and singing of the national anthem and we went straight to breakfast to collect energy for the day ahead. 09h00 we were all gathered in the hall as horses ready to take off to the race, formal introduction and prayer was given and then the soccer field was the place where we all headed.

No one has to remember that these guys who are taking part are guys that normally meet each other on an academic and spiritual platform, hardly ever on the sports field…and that just added to the fun. There were many games that one could choose to join in, from the likes of the 800m sprint, the ‘walkerton’ which is really just fast walking around the ground, apple and powder, needle and thread, egg and spoon, three-legged race, backward race, peanut butter and bread, bending-low…should I continue? Every game was there, everyone was invited to play and it was a bliss to watch.

Like any institution, we have our favourites, the notorious tug-of-war which is normally the highlight for me and as well as my personal favourite the old krocks or amakrokokroko, it’s with absolute pain that I was asked not to participate this year because they think I should play professional…I’m lying. But that is a game that is awaited with wide eyes because you get to see 22 people who have never kicked a ball in their lives actually trying to score goals…it’s probably one of the funniest 30 minutes of the day! Viva makrokokroko viva!

And then…the moment that was awaited…the soccer final. It was between the first year philosophers and the second year theologians, in their kits and looking like professionals; facing west they began once again those famous words of that anthem nkosi sikelel’ iAfica (God bless Africa…) and the game then began, a hot, tough and rewarding game. History has indeed taught us that always the young must make way for the elderly and this year was no different as the second year theologians won by 3 goals to 1.

And believe it or not, it was already after 4 in the afternoon and the sun was about to finish its course. The brothers went for a fast shower and then we met at the hall at 17h30 for the penultimate part of our celebration which was the award ceremony. Many people would think that this is an unfortunate part of the day where the stars are held in high esteem and honoured while the rest of us just look on…no; you see here at John Vianney we understand that all participants are winners, but it’s only the champions who are awarded and that the way it happened- people who came either first, second or third in the games of that day received medals and certificates and, somehow, the joy was within all of us. After the second years were then crowned the winners and took their trophy and medals-it was to give our body trophies and medals as well, there was a mouth-watering barbeque that was prepared as the rest of us were playing and after that, one couldn’t help but thank God for the day and retire in ones room for the day.

This day was only a few days ago…but I can’t wait for the upcoming one next year!

Malusi ‘Fuz’elihle’ Ngcobo

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