REAL HEROES INSPIRE YOUNG ATHLETES


As we travel through life we all get to meet people that have an impact on our lives, sometimes it is in a positive way and regrettably there are also those that have a negative impact.

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Choosing sports stars and other high profile people as our “heroes” can suddenly drop your ideals of admiration into the trash can, particularly when the news is pounded by your “star” behaving in an inappropriate manner.

On the flip side of the coin, we are very seldom exposed to the good deeds these stars do particularly when there is nothing scandalous to expose.

The massive influence that these people can project on impressionable people is immense, not to mention young children who are still trying to determine and establish the difference between good and bad values.

With all the sports academies that are now in operation, hopefully life skills will form an important part of their curriculum.

My youngest son, Liam, like most young South African schoolboys has posters of his rugby heroes pasted all over his wall, so much so it’s a bit of a guessing game as whether there is even paint below those action pictures.

Anyway, to get to the point of my article, he told a few years ago me that he had seen a flanker by the name of Keegan Daniel that was playing for Natal Sharks, adding “ he will definitely be a bok one day”.

Jokingly, I said that I knew a Keegan Daniel that also played rugby and in fact had I had assisted him with some rugby conditioning, but I was sure that it was another Keegan.

To cut a long story short, it was the one and the same Keegan and when I next saw him at the gym, I asked him if he would be so kind as to meet with my son.

His time line was tight as you can imagine yet he agreed to meet my youngster, but Liam was playing an under 11 rugby match the next day so it looked like the meeting would need to be postponed.

It was a Saturday game and Keegan pitched up as promised, after giving a short motivational speech, he then proceeded to watch the entire game cheering the youngsters on with great enthusiasm.

Keegan’s mom even attended the game, leaving me flabbergasted at the goodwill and generosity being extended to these youngsters.

My son’s team lost that game, but what a game it was.

After the match Keegan then went out his way to chat with these possible stars of the future and allowed photographs to be taken with the boys.

Ever since that day, my son has followed Keegan’s career passionately in the belief that he would one day be called up to the Springbok squad, in fact he told all of us, before the currie cup final, that not only will the sharks win, but Keegan will be selected for the bok tour.

Confidently, he sent Keegan a message to tell him that he “will” be selected and although I am not sure if he received it, one thing I do know is that Keegan Daniel, the loose forward, has had a massive impact and continues to inspire a young flyhalf that also shares something in common and that’s a passion for the game of rugby.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Keegan Daniel for being an exceptional role model for our youth and leading the way. Well done, you are the epitome of a true champion.