Commentary Box: The Fika Factor

rof. Fika Janse van Rensburg is always in the thick of the action at sports events. Here, he gives a hug to Percy Williams during the Pukke's 2016 Varsity Cup triumph. Photo: Wouter Pienaar
rof. Fika Janse van Rensburg is always in the thick of the action at sports events. Here, he gives a hug to Percy Williams during the Pukke's 2016 Varsity Cup triumph. Photo: Wouter Pienaar

Have you ever experienced that the mere presence of a person, their support or words of encouragement can go a long way towards achieving ultimate sporting success?
One the best examples of this has to be Nelson Mandela who used his ‘Madiba Magic’ to inspire sporting teams during his tenure as president and even post the presidency when attending important international games or tournaments.

Madiba was always there to give a few words of motivation to teams and, more often than not, it resulted in surrounding victories. His mere presence was enough to inspire sportsmen towards the ultimate achievement. Who can forget the 1995 Rugby World Cup final with Madiba wearing number 6 on his back? Closer to home, NWU-Pukke have their own type of ‘Madiba Magic’ that is seemingly spurring them on in the form of NWU-Pukke deputy vice-chancellor, Prof. Fika Janse van Rensburg.

rof. Fika Janse van Rensburg is always in the thick of the action at sports events. Here, he gives a hug to Percy Williams during the Pukke's 2016 Varsity Cup triumph. Photo: Wouter Pienaar

rof. Fika Janse van Rensburg is always in the thick of the action at sports events. Here, he gives a hug to Percy Williams during the Pukke’s 2016 Varsity Cup triumph. Photo: Wouter Pienaar

I would like to call this the ‘Fika Factor’ and the stats back up this phenomenon where sporting teams have excelled under his tenure as the former rector as well as in his current position at the Potchefstroom Campus.

Since Prof. Fika took over the post in early 2016, the Varsity Cup rugby team won their first title, the netball team won the Varsity Netball trophy twice as well as the USSA tournament, while the Varsity Cricket title, too, was in Pukke’s hands for the first time in 2016.


Prof. Fika has a talent to inspire with his words and his encouragement goes beyond the normal pre-tournament speeches. He greets the players after matches and is truly interested in his students giving the hope and a feeling of togetherness. His humble attitude and friendly demeanour seem to rub off on the sports teams, too. In short, Prof. Fika supports unity and more often than not goes the extra mile. It is as if he has a personal connection with players even though he is not on the coaching team – quite like Mandela all those years back.

Now, it might be a stretch to say that Prof. Fika and Mandela are alike because both come from different backgrounds and experiences, but they inspire as leaders – in short, teams look up to them. The lasting image of NWU-Pukke sport is simple – Pukke players celebrating with a trophy, jubilant and in ecstasy with the smile of Prof. Fika gleaming in the middle.

  AUTHOR
Wouter Pienaar
Sport Journalist

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