Athi Gazi, affectionately known as “10 names” sits down with Jamie. Our very own full back is in his penultimate year of BSc Civil Engineering. After matriculating from SACS in 2015, Gazi found himself on The Green Mile. Read more to find out exactly how a casual conversation turned Gazi into an invaluable first team Ikey Tiger!
- How old were you when you started playing rugby?
I started playing rugby at the age of 14 in Grade 8. I started off playing for the U14 C Team but it was just introductory. I honestly really loved soccer but they didn’t offer it at my high school, so I thought I might as well give rugby a shot.
- What was your first rugby memory?
We played Bishops and one of the guys handed me off and we literally got a photo. So my face was all over Bishops Rugby – I kind of unintentionally became the face of Bishops rugby. I was the talk of the town for a bit, it eventually dissipated but that was my first memory of the sport.
- What role does your family play in achieving your goals?
My role models would definitely be my siblings (older brothers and sister). I draw a lot of strength and inspiration from them. They are successful and they inspire me to follow in their footsteps.
- Who is your role model and why?
My other role model would be David Goggins – I can relate to his past; it kind of reminds me of my own. I always just think, if this guy can do it, why can’t I? I am just a drop in the ocean in this world and if he can do it, so can I.
- Can you remember your first training session at UCT?
Tom said that I must just come down and watch the training. I wasn’t able to play properly because I was recovering from a injury. Anyway, long story short, the following week I was playing in the internal side (U20 Nadoes). So I guess my first session was more than just watching the other guys, I was thrown straight into the deep end.
- Why UCT?
My sibling all graduated from UCT and are now working. It has always been a family thing, and there was definitely a pressure on me to get into UCT. Initially, I was looking into taking a gap year, but my parents weren’t having any of that. I come from a very academically focused family, both my mom and dad are the first to graduate from university in their linage; so education has always been the most important. I initially didn’t play rugby, but once I started, my dad wasn’t very happy with it. After proving that I could balance rugby and academics, he started to accept it. My family are now completely supportive of my choice to not only focus on academics but also pursue my rugby career.
- Describe your perfect weekend
It would definitely be a Varsity Cup weekend. Friday I finish off my lectures, Saturday we head to the mile for early morning practice, strength and conditioning. On Sunday, I will do a little bit of work and make sure I am all ready for Monday’s match. But mostly, just unwind before the week starts. I just like to relax.
- What motivates you to achieve your goals?
It would definitely be that loyalty won’t save me. If I don’t go do it, no one is going to come save me. My dad always says to me that I mustn’t rely on other people; you have to get what you want on your own. This is the mentality I live by, I am not going to be a student forever, I don’t want to look back when I am 30 and think “what if”. So while I am here, I always just give my absolute best shot.
- If you could be in a room with three of your favourite people – who would it be and why?
David Goggins – as discussed earlier; he is just an absolute legend.
Damian McKenzie: I respect the work that he does both on and off the field. I would love to meet and chat to him.
Young Thug: He is an innovator, he is one of a kind. It’s not only what he has contributed to the music scene, but definitely the things he does outside of it. He is simply the first of his kind.
- What are your plans for the future?
First things first is to get my degree done and dusted. But, I definitely want to be in a winning Varsity Cup season as well. Looking at the next eighteen months, I do want to play at the highest level and afterwards see what my qualification can offer me. I just want to test my limits, I want to be put up against the best of the best and see if I am physically and mentally cut out for this. I am not really looking further than that right now, I guess we will just have to see what life has to offer me after that.