Ricochet News

Port of East London exposes and nurtures hidden talent

Mar 26, 2018
Port of East London exposes and nurtures hidden talent

Because Transnet believed in his potential a few years ago, today Lwazi Gqira aged 25 is ranked the number 1 golf player in the Border region and 54 in South Africa.

He changed from a shy and insecure person living in extreme poverty in a shack in Duncan Village, to a well-respected young man in his community and among the golfing fraternity around the country.

Lwazi represented the Border men’s side and has made the SA Development side to play against Scotland and the South African team in Johannesburg last year. He is dedicatedly working to achieve his ultimate dream – to become a top professional golfer soon.

The Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation has renewed his membership for the third year due to his satisfactory progress on and off the golf course under the watchful eye of his coach, Michelle De Vries and Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) in East London.


“The transformation of Lwazi was like day and night. I have seen a life change before my eyes, a life that will inspire many more young children in underprivileged circumstances to dream, to believe and to work hard to achieve,” said Michelle, his coach and mentor for the past six years.

“Lwazi’s significant improvement has brought him closer to becoming a professional golfer in the near future. His maturity in his game and in life is not only through good work ethics, but from TNPA believing in him. None of these achievements would have been accomplished without TNPA’s investment in this young man over the past 5 years.

His move from his dilapidated shack in Duncan Village to Quigney in East London has given him a chance to learn responsibility for his daily commitments as well as the realisation that the harder one works, the more opportunities will arise to better oneself,” said de Vries, a golfing professional herself with 30 years of coaching experience.


“Lwazi has also realised that things happen in life that can change the course of one’s dreams. Therefore he has worked hard on developing his artisan skills of welding. He plans to complete his 3-year studies at the Mdantsane Technical College to obtain a welding qualification at the end of this year,” said Sharon Sijako, Port Manager at the Port of East London.

TNPA does not only support Lwazi to enhance his golfing career and life skills, but also to develop his post school skills levels. The funding includes the supply of golfing equipment, clothing, coaching lessons, transport, education, general life orientation skills, participation in golf tournaments and supporting his coach to accompany him on high profile tournaments.

The Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation affords him the opportunity to participate in monthly national tournaments throughout the country, competing alongside other top South African amateur golfers.


What has this experience taught Lwazi? “Hard work pays - if you don’t work hard, you will not make it. Never give up, keep on fighting as you don’t know what will happen at the next hole,” he said.

What encouragement does Lwazi want to share with young golfers in difficult circumstances? “If you’re in a bad space, know that God is watching you. People are also watching you. Therefore, whatever you do – pay attention to it. Be prepared, have a schedule and plan in advance. Your mind is testing you – keep a diary as it will help you to control your mind. It is a mind game.”

“Commitment, hard work and discipline is the name of the game. Make changes while you’re young. Think like a pro, not like an amateur,” Lwazi concluded.

Image: L-R:  Port Manager Sharon Sijako gains some golfing swing advice from Lwazi Gqira & Michelle De Vries