A good dose of mental strength pushed FNB Madibaz hooker Keaton Olivier to the Player That Rocks performance in last week’s FNB Varsity Shield encounters against FNB UFH.
The 20-year-old Nelson Mandela University student went over for a remarkable four tries in defeating their Eastern Cape rivals 24-6 in Gqeberha.
Olivier will now wear the pink shorts in the vital final match against FNB UWC at home. A win will secure Madibaz’s promotion to the FNB Varsity Cup in 2024.
The second-year biokinetics student grew up in Komani before moving to Gqeberha where he attended primary and high school.
He began placing greater emphasis on the sport from Grade 10 and hasn’t looked back since joining the Madibaz ranks.
“My game has gone from strength to strength. It was a huge step up from high school into a programme such as we have at Madibaz.
“The big lesson I have learnt is that you get out what you put in. You have to be willing to sacrifice a lot of personal time to be successful and understand that it is 99% mental and 1% physical.”
Although they push their bodies to the limit each week in training, few understand and recognised the importance of the mental side of the game, he says.
This resolve will stand the Madibaz in good stead when they tackle the unbeaten UWC.
“The biggest challenge is what is at stake when we run out on that field,” says Olivier.
“We know the game that UWC will bring to us. They are a good outfit and well-coached so it’s going to be the match of the campaign in my opinion.”
There is indeed plenty riding on the encounter with UWC.
Madibaz coach David Manuel says this is their chance to show that they could compete at an elite level.
“We have worked hard to get where we are. We slipped up against CPUT but maybe that was a wake-up call and an indication of how strong the competition is.”
He says the team has come together since and believes that they can deliver what is required.
“When I came to the Eastern Cape it was a big thing for me to change the mindset because there was a deep-rooted feeling that we weren’t good enough.”
They have worked to change that mindset to one where the players believe that they deserved to be on this level, and the next, says Manuel.
“Thursday is a big opportunity to solidify that and we will give it our all.”