Varsity Shield player of the tournament, Sesona Macala, off to Europe
While many wrap up the final days of the festive season in preparation of the new year, former Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) rugby player, Sesona Macala, 24, is hard at training, at the Dan Qeqe Stadium, in Zwide, Gqeberha.
Around October last year, Macala received an offer to play professional rugby for Rugby Club da Lousã, in Portugal.
But due to delays in his Visa application and the sudden travel bans as a result of the Omicron Covid-19 variant, his trip was moved to the end of January.
On Monday January 3, Macala had two training sessions – a light training session with former Sharks Academy utility backline player, Lwandile Menze, at 4pm, followed by a full training session with African Bombers Rugby Club, at 6pm.
But it is the eighth man’s diligence throughout the year that helps him to stay up a notch on the field. Since he started playing rugby for Bombers at the age of 8, he has never missed a season, nor has he ever been injured.
His under-8 coach at Bombers, Loyisa Mafanya, saw him play in the streets and recruited him for his height and speed. From there, he went on to play for Moregrove Primary School, Linkside High School and received a season scholarship to play for Victoria Park High School, in Gqeberha.
In 2015 Macala made the Eastern Province under-18 Academy Week and the Tony Stoops Invitational SA squad touring to Ireland. In 2016 he was a part of the Boland Rugby Institute and played Border Currie Cup rugby for the under-20 side in 2017.
He went on to play for CPUT in 2018 and in 2021 helped them to secure the Varsity Shield in a nail-biting 30-26 win against the Walter Sisulu University’s All Blacks in last season’s final.
“The 2021 Varsity Shield was really tough. There were no spectators. We were in the same bubble with our opponents and friends. We had lunch together and were always chirping at each other. We had some pressure as the defending champions,” he said.
The eighth man is used to pressure on and off the field. Last season, he scored a brace in the final, he was awarded a few Man of the Match awards, and he received the 2021 FNB Varsity Shield Overall Player that Rocks award.
“I was really shocked with the awards. There were many others who were good. There was a lot of potential and talent. I had one Player of the Match, a Player that Rocks, and the Overall Player of the Tournament award,” he said.
Macala, who is no stranger to disappointment, said while he was at Linkside High, he received a scholarship to play for Muir College Boys’ High School, in Kariega, however, his parents had to turn it down as it would mean he had to repeat a grade.
Yet he remains humble with the new opportunity to play professional rugby in Europe this year. He set his standards for nothing but the best season yet to come.
“I cannot say I am excited; I have been waiting for this opportunity. I just have to wait and see what happens this time,” he said.
Growing up in the same township and playing for the same club as Springbok captain, Siya Kolisi; Zwide and African Bombers, Macala said he hopes to become the role model many youngsters in his area look up to and emulate.
“Always apply hard work, determination and discipline behind the scenes,” said Macala.