Seize the moment
My career as a physical science educator, deputy principal, subject adviser and principal has always been rewarding and filled with memorable events.
But none was more memorable than the visit of a 2010 Fifa World Cup local organising committee (LOC) delegation, which included luminaries such as Danny Jordaan, Mark Fish and the then North West premier, Edna Molewa, to Holy Family Combined School, the school where I am principal.
Remarkable moments often happen very unexpectedly and this was no exception.
Grabbing opportunity with both hands
It was on Thursday May 15 2008 that I received a phone call from a local municipal official requesting that my school host this delegation. They wished to celebrate winning the 2010 bid by planting some trees in our school grounds to commemorate the occasion.
The official said he had confidence in our ability to host such a delegation -— even though we were given only one hour’s notice. My immediate response was that such opportunities do not come around every day and, therefore, we would grab it with both hands.
I then called together the grade 12 learners and a group of educators to prepare for the event. Everyone moved at the speed of lightning and a few minutes before the guests arrived the school hall was ready, with everything in place, including stage decorations, the PA system and an audience.
The premier introduced the dele-gation and Jordaan, as usual, gave a very dignified speech. The children were excited to see one of their heroes, Mark Fish, cracking jokes and displaying his soccer skills.
When my turn came to speak, I felt a bit confused — should I just welcome them or should I use the opportunity to ask for assistance with upgrading our soccer field? I made up my mind quickly and said: “We would like to produce world class football players from this area and for this to happen we need a good soccer field.”
The audience responded with a thunderous round of applause. I could see Jordaan was also moved by the enthusiasm of the audience.
Getting a soccer pitch
Afterwards, Jordaan told me that the LOC would consider laying an AstroTurf soccer pitch at the school. Determined not to miss this golden opportunity, I immediately wrote a letter of motivation and submitted it quickly. Supporting letters from the school governing body, the local municipality and the department of education followed soon thereafter. I travelled to Safa House in Soweto to showcase the school.
After much correspondence to and fro, the confirmation came at last: the school would receive its AstroTurf pitch. The sod-turning ceremony on February 24 2010 attracted eminent personalities from the LOC, ministers, international media, various government departments, neighbouring schools and all our partners.
Being on the map
Today the school boasts a worldclass AstroTurf football pitch built at a cost of over R5-million. Last year a club house was added at a cost of R 1.5-million.
Our association with Fifa, coupled- with our proud record of producing a 100% matric pass rate for six consecutive- years, has put us on the map and has led to more partnerships being formed with a range of local and international organisations.
If anyone says my school is lucky, I would agree. However, as a Roman philosopher once said: “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
Kuttappan Somasekharan Nair is principal of Holy Family Combined School in Rustenburg, North West. He was a finalist in the Excellence in -Secondary School Leadership category in the 2011 National Teaching Awards