AFYA’s Leadership & Team Development Programme aim is to promote individual leadership capability and team spirit in a fun and demanding environment. AFYA runs CPD courses for teaching and coaching staff who want to extend and enhance their personal and collective awareness of sports education.
We do this for sports teams and coaches (in a sports specific environment) as well as teaching staff and corporate departments. AFYA runs team events and team building sessions throughout the year.
To find out more visit our Team Development page or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
An example of courage and team spirit - The Bob Blair Story
In 1953 there were two things which turned the 2nd Cricket Test in Johannesburg into an open- air melodrama. The first was the lively pitch, the second was a train wreck in New Zealand that cost the lives of nearly 150 people (The Tangiwai disaster Christmas Eve 1953).
There was a great deal of theorising about the pitch after the match. Whatever the cause the effect was remarkable. . Fast bowling on a length would frequently get the ball up head high- it was a dangerous situation in which to bat.
The first news of the disaster reached the New Zealand team on the second morning of the match. The team’s manager woke some of the older members of the party in the early hours to tell them that Bob Blair’s fiancée had been one of the victims. At the ground that morning the New Zealand and South African flags were at half-mast, as a measure of sympathy for Blair and his fiancée’s family.
The New Zealand team left for the ground that morning with Blair left behind grieving for his fiancée. It was another morning of intense heat, and there was a crowd of 23,000 to greet the NZ team. During the lunch interval, it was announced that Bert Sutcliffe had been medically advised not to play after receiving a severe head injury and collapsing on the pitch. Sutcliffe had collapsed a second time while being x- rayed at the hospital. However, as the match wore on the lively pitch led to a collapse of the NZ batting order and the situation became desperate.
It was Bert Sutcliffe who eventually walked out to bat, and the Springboks joined in the tremendous support that greeted him. Sutcliffe took guard, bent his bandaged head to make his mark, and faced the fast bowling. He batted on bravely through the session, losing batting partners until finally the last batsman was caught out with the score at 154. Since New Zealand had no batsmen left everyone thought that the innings was at an end.
Indeed, the players turned away and began to walk off the field, but the crowd was puzzled when they stopped. Out of the tunnel beneath the stand, into the sunshine walked Blair, fumbling with his gloves and as one the spectators in the huge stand stood for him, standing in complete silence.
John Reid the NZ captain recalled the incident, ”The crowd stood as one. It was the most unforgettable moment in my life. Tears streamed unchecked down the cheeks of those around me, and down my own. To be hurt physically and return to fight I can understand. To be so deeply bruised mentally and emotionally and return, took a kind of courage which passed understanding”
As Blair approached the wicket, Sutcliffe went out to meet him and put an arm around his comrade. All the New Zealanders had taken hits in the match, but Sutcliffe’s courage was excelled only by that of Blair. Facing the first ball Blair hurriedly passed a hand across his eyes. The silence was immense as the bowler moved in- but Blair kept him out.
Then it was Sutcliffe’s turn for more heroics, moving into a ball on his left stump he sent it soaring over the boundary at mid-wicket and the crowd regained its voice. Its roar had not died away when Sutcliffe, two balls later, drove for another six. Two balls later again, he repeated the shot.
Blair was left to face the last ball of the over. Down it came and Blair put his foot down the pitch and hit a towering six to mid-wicket, the ball dropping far over the fence among a mass of frenzied spectators. The over cost South Africa 25 runs and was a counter attack on a Hollywood scale.
In the next over, Sutcliffe hit two graceful fours, but he lost the strike to Blair and Blair was stumped off the next ball. Together they had scored 33 runs in 10 minutes, with Sutcliffe finishing on 80 not out.
So Sutcliffe and Blair left the field to sustained and tremendous applause, which lasted long after they had disappeared, arms about each other, into the depths of the tunnel. This was indeed a triumph from tragedy, a great and glorious victory over misfortune and despair and a wonderful example of team spirit.
Taken from “Sport Motivation” by Professor Ken Hodge, Professor in Sport Psychology, University of Otago, New Zealand.