When Highveld Lions batsman and Stellenbosch University (SU) alumnus Omphile Ramela talks about cricket, he describes it as a vehicle – the conveyor belt that has taken him places he might not have gone otherwise and provided a career path in sport.
This Soweto-born cricket player’s talent was discovered through the Bakers Mini-cricket programme when he was in primary school and he was offered the opportunity to attend St Peter’s Boys School in Johannesburg from Grade 5 to Grade 7. From there he went to St John’s College, again thanks to cricket.
In 2008 cricket brought Ramela to Stellenbosch, where he became a member and later captain of Maties Cricket’s first team.
During his professional cricket career he also represented the Cape Cobras and South Africa A. The final step for him would be to represent the Proteas – the pinnacle for most cricketers.
But Ramela’s focus wasn’t just on cricket. He obtained his BA degree and two honours degrees, one in Philosophy and one in Economics, from SU. In 2015 he registered for a master’s degree in Economics with a focus on Economic history. He submitted his dissertation in November 2017.
Ramela has always been very conscious of the fact that a career in sport is short-lived.
“The earnings potential of athletes varies depending on the level you play. If you haven’t played at the pinnacle of your sporting code for at least five to ten years you simply won’t make enough to live off after playing.
“A quality education bridges the gap, and allows you to work long after your sporting career is over. Moreover, I have invested in my education because coming from Soweto I couldn’t rely solely on cricket. In my community, education is seen as the bedrock to escaping poverty and unemployment and I was encouraged to maximise the opportunities I got with my studies.”
He specifically remembers the hospitality he received from the bursary office, cricket manager André du Toit and the cricket community within his first month at SU as well as the opportunity to travel to Spain during his postgraduate studies.
Ramela would definitely encourage talented sportspeople to register at a tertiary institution, if they have the appetite for it. Alternatively, he would encourage athletes to upskill themselves however they can.
“I think even enrolling at a Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college to acquire skills is a valuable option. There are many opportunities for student-athletes who bring a diverse thought pattern into the corporate space.”
- By Pia Nänny -