I had an opportunity today to meet Peter De Villiers, who is the coach of the South African National Rugby team, the Springbok. Peter is the first non-white coach ever in the history of the country and his appointment as coach was not without controversy. He was appointed in 2008 and the team has been very successful. He and Arrie Hougaard have become friends with many of the people in the Indianapolis Colts organization and are on a trip here to the U.S. to investigate coaching and motivational strategies as they prepare their team for the Rugby World Cup. Our meeting was very ironic for me because last summer when our family visited our daughter in South Africa, I got to meet the previous Springbok coach, Jake White.
Coach De Villiers came by the Family First offices and we spent some time talking about practice techniques, motivation and developing chemistry and teamwork. The thing I was impressed with about Peter is that, as a Christian, he is concerned about developing his players off the field as well as on. He has also had to deal with challenges of being a black head coach of the national team in South Africa, that had not historically welcomed non-white players or coaches.
We had a great time and I came to the conclusion that sports are the same everywhere and many of the issues that he was looking at were similar to the issues we face here with American football. The biggest question is how you get talented athletes from different backgrounds and experiences to come together and make winning the primary goal.
I’ll be looking forward to watching The Springbok and seeing Coach De Villiers’ team in action.