The 2022 headline numbers are sensational: 22 national representatives in 14 different sports, 130 Kwazulu-Natal representatives. And that’s without mentioning a long list of team successes. 

To say 2022 has been a good year for Westville Boys’ High sport is a huge understatement. Those figures above are likely unmatched by any school in South Africa. The quality, quantity and breadth of achievement by WBHS is truly eye-opening.

The key to the Griffins’ successes is a safe environment, quality coaching, with an element of fun, effective communication, an opportunity to play and to also learn life lessons along the way, Director of Sport Pam Hayward said at the Awards function on Thursday.

The addition of Christo Esau, one of a very small number of level four cricket coaches in the country, who was named the Coaches’ Coach of the Year, has been a boon, not just to the cricket programme, but to the overall sports’ programme, Hayward added.

It must have been challenging to decide the winners of two of the key general awards: Sports Code of the Year and 1st Team of the Year. Both, though, were undoubtedly worthy winners.

The Sports Code of the Year went to cricket; from top to bottom, Westville produced outstanding results through all of the age groups. For the first time in a couple of years, teams were able to tour and participate against leading schools from around the country, and Westville proved itself to be among the best in South Africa.

Coached by Richard Wissing, the Coach of the Year, and assisted by Thomas Jackson, the 1st XI had a very busy year, playing 43 matches and winning more than three-quarters of them. They were the KwaZulu-Natal 100-Ball champions early in the year. Then, towards the end of 2022, they finished third at the North-South T20 in Pretoria, where most of the cream of South Africa’s schools cricket teams were in action.

The under-15 A and under-14 teams were every bit as successful as, if not even more successful, than their senior counterparts. The under-15s won 18 of 24 matches, while the under-14s recorded a superb 20 victories in 23 outings.

Westville boys were named KZN Coastal captains at under-15, under-16 and under-19 level, with 14 boys earning their provincial colours. In addition, five staff members were named to KZN teams, either as coaches or managers.

No doubt, the addition of a new Indoor Cricket centre and turf nets helped the boys lift their game to new heights.

The 1st Team of the Year went the way of the tennis team. Echoing the glory days of Westville tennis, three players – Guy Vorwerk, Connor Doig and Senthen Reddy – received their national colours. Underlining the school’s strength in depth was the fact that 14 players earned their KZN colours.

WBHS also captured the title at the Saint Stithians Festival and is currently ranked second in South Africa. Number one is, no doubt, within their grasp. 

Many of the boys did themselves proud in national junior events. Most notably, Connor Doig, number one in South Africa in the under-14 age group, produced a stunning run to win the open men’s title at the Growthpoint KZN Super 8, defeating Guy Vorwerk in the semi-finals, on his way to claiming the crown.

The school’s excellence in racquet sports carried through to badminton, with Westville winning the SA Schools title. Thanks to that success, they’ll represent South Africa at the All Africa Games in Mauritius in December, led by Ronan du Plessis, who received his national colours.

For the first time in 15 years, however, Westville was defeated in the swimming pool, with Saint Benedict’s winning the Nestor Peridies Memorial Gala. The next day, though, WBHS claimed the overall title at the Alan Burt Gala. Later, they added victories in the Durban and Districts and Top Schools Galas. Leshan Pillay was awarded his national colours.

Meanwhile, Westville’s water polo teams shone.  The 1st team recorded victories against all other KZN schools and is ranked in the top 10 in the country. Three players – Aaron Tarr, Nathan Jacob and Warwick Field – were named in national teams.

Hockey, for so long an area of strength for WBHS, produced three players – Daniel Freese, Siyathokoza Makhanya and Buhlali Mhlanzi – for the South African under-18 B team. In all, 29 players represented KZN Coastals, along with eight coaches and managers.

On the rugby field, prop Liyema Ntshanga received his SA Schools colours. And on the football field, Westville won the KZN second term league at under-14 and 1st team level, with the latter being unbeaten in KZN for the year.

Softball, too, rode the wave, with the WBHS teams all enjoying unbeaten seasons.

Proof of the diversity of sports and excellence achieved in them was provided by the following sportsmen who also received national colours: Seth Poolton (bodyboarding), Josh Simpkins (canoeing), Dian Wilmot (golf), Adam Pons (volleyball), Christopher du Bruyn and Luke Cuthbert (angling), Nakhil Govender (karate), Kai Williams (wave ski canoeing), Max Davidson (life-saving).

The Errol Stewart Sportsman of the Year Award was presented to Siyathokoza Makhanya, while Aaron Tarr and Liyema Ntshanga shared the Mickey Arthur Trophy for Sporting Excellence.

Remarkably, 26 members of the Westville staff represented the school at provincial level as coaches or managers. The correlation between excellent achievements and top coaching was crystal-clear.

Director of Sport Hayward said the sports’ staff should be celebrated for their commitment to the boys and the school, which was followed by a standing ovation from the boys.

She added that it was important for the learners to appreciate their opportunities and to practice gratitude, especially where teamwork is concerned. Hayward concluded by thanking the parents for the support of their sons, especially those Mothers Support groups, who offer their services on match days.