January is always a time of deep reflection and setting goals for the year. Captain of the Western Province Rugby team, Chris van Zyl, is incredibly goal orientated and was thus the perfect inspiration for our January cover.
Was playing professional rugby always part of the plan?
I had not specifically had this dream at a young age. But as I had grown into the sport, I realised that I could do this as a profession. It then very quickly became a dream to play professional rugby and to be the best that I can be. Specific goal setting has always been part of my life. Rugby goals became more and more pertinent.
What has been your biggest career highlight?
To date it must have been lifting the Currie Cup as captain of the 2017 Western Province team. How do you handle the pressure of being captain? I have always loved the responsibility that comes with leading a team. I thrive under these circumstances and enjoy the pressure that comes with it. I’m always conscious that I have been chosen to lead the team for a reason and to trust my decisions on and off the field.
What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned playing rugby?
Self-discipline has always been a characteristic that I have strived for. But being in a professional sport environment I feel that I have learnt even more about its importance when pursuing your goals. When you’re not playing rugby, what’s your favourite thing to do? I enjoy playing the odd game of golf and spending time with family and friends.
Tell us something about yourself no one else may know.
My full name is Christopher Machiel and yet most people that know me, call me by my nickname Pickle. I wish there was an exciting story behind the nickname. But unfortunately, it was just a case of not being able to pronounce the word correctly.
Do you have any advice for aspiring professional athletes?
Most importantly set goals on a regular basis, work hard and stay focused. Whatever sacrifice you make will be worth it in the end if it is something you truly desire. Do you think it’s important for players to prepare for life after Rugby? I believe that all professional athletes need to prepare for life after sport while still playing professionally. My feeling is that it is often too late to prepare for life after professional sport, post one’s career.
What’s top of your New Year’s Resolutions list?
To win a Super Rugby Title with the Stormers. To win a consecutive Currie Cup Title with Western Province. To build Walworth Consulting to a new level and continue to grow the business.