Kamvelihle Fatyela Blues Captain - Graduate

The leadership qualities Kamvelihle Fatyela has shown as captain of the University of Fort Hare rugby team will stand him in great stead as he looks forward to a career in the classroom.

The 25-year-old, who lifted the FNB Varsity Shield trophy with UFH in 2022, graduated from the institution with a Bachelor of Education degree on Monday.

It marks the culmination of a remarkable journey that has seen him reach the pinnacle of his sport at the university and come away with a qualification that will allow him to develop the next generation of South Africans.

While his final year with the Blues did not bring any silverware, his inspirational leadership ensured that his side would remain in the Varsity Shield in 2025.

Their dogged determination to avoid the drop was evidenced in the last two matches of the season. They demolished UKZN in Alice before beating TUT on their home turf in Pretoria.

Fatyela, who hails from Zwelitsha in Qonce (King William’s Town) where he attended Dale Junior before moving to Durban High School in KwaZulu-Natal, had not originally intended pursuing studies in education.

It was the only course available to him at the time and, as the years went by, he grew to love it.

Now that he has graduated, he aims to find work at a high school where he can teach English and Economics to Grade 10 to 12 learners.

Kamvelihle Fatyela Blues Captain - Graduate

Kamvelihle Fatyela, Fort Hare Blues’ inspirational skipper, graduated from the university on Monday. Photo: Supplied

He has no intention of hanging up his boots and will resume training with the Border senior side for whom he has turned out previously.

Fatyela said his studies had helped him become a better leader.

“In schools you have to take charge, but you also have to listen to other people. You learn that you should not be afraid to take risks but also ask for assistance if needed,” he said.

“You don’t just demand respect, you earn it, and you need to engage with people. It’s not just ‘everything I say goes’. You have to think about other people as well and ask yourself how your decisions affect them.”

He will remember winning the Shield for the rest of his life and without question considers it the highlight of his student career.

Making sure his young team would remain in the competition brought its own rewards, he said.

“With this being my final year, it would have been terrible to lose out on the competition next season.

“I spoke to the older guys in the team and said, ‘Let’s do it for these younger guys’. We couldn’t just leave knowing that we would be relegated.”

Commitment has always been among Fatyela’s strongest points and putting this year’s Shield campaign above his personal ambitions to play provincial rugby is yet more testament to his character.

Playing the game professionally is still very much on his radar, which means there “won’t be much time to celebrate” his graduation as he rejoins Border training.

Finishing at Fort Hare, his home for the past four years, was always going to be bittersweet, but he is also looking forward to seeing what the next chapter brings.

As he leaves, he urges those still at the university to “make every moment count”.

“Aways strive to achieve. You might have difficulties but look past them. Life is a rollercoaster and it will always have its ups and downs.”