Rugby is one of the globally celebrated sport codes.
The Villager Metro caught up with the big boss of the Namibian Rugby Union for an exclusive interview to discuss she is holding up as a leader for a male dominated sport. She says that after working in the finance and marketing departments of a large company for 11 years, the corporate environment taught her to stand her ground in a male-dominated field.
Theron also says her father taught her to love rugby, and made her a keen supporter of the sport. She grew up in a beautiful small town known as Montagu, about 200km from Cape Town, South Africa. The youngest of three sisters, she studied at the University of Stellenbosch. She has been living in Namibia since 1997.
Name: Elizma Theron
Occupation: Acting CEO, Namibia Rugby Union
Relationship status: Married
Describe yourself in a two words. Compassionate, loyal
Were you a Rugby player before? No (dated a few and married one)
What has been your most embarrassing moment in life?
I have embarrassing moments regularly but at least I can laugh at myself.
When did you start your sporting career?
I was asked by a friend to assist at the Rugby Union during a busy period two years ago, and I am still here.
Who is the one person you have met and has given you a different perspective on life?
I am fortunate to work with lots of amazing, successful people from different backgrounds. Each person has something unique to give from their lives. I try to learn from everyone who crosses my path. I do not believe in meeting people by accident, but that everyone you meet is for a certain reason. I like reading about successful people and I am amazed at the wisdom of someone like Nelson Mandela, who was a visionary in his dealings with people, who could show love where others would have displayed hatred and revenge.
If you were the president of Namibia, what will you do for disabled and visually impaired people?
That is one job that I would find extremely difficult. I get emotional easily. Difficult as it is, I would try to make their everyday lives a little easier by encouraging businesses to have facilities for the handicapped - ramps for wheelchairs and easy access to buildings. There will be beepers at traffic lights so that those visually-impaired can safely cross roads. I would enforce dedicated assistance at shops, specific schools and shops where they can learn and sell their craft. The focus should be on their strengths and what they can offer the community instead of focusing on their handicaps.
Which sport legend do you look up to?
Gary Player. He has always been an amazing ambassador for his country. He is always a perfect gentleman, very intelligent and he makes no secret of how much he loves his wife. Closer to home, most definitely it is Frankie Fredericks. I have the utmost respect for what he has achieved on the world stage. His humility through all of this is highly admirable. He is a clear example of not using “coming from Namibia” as an excuse for competing against the best in the world. We have the talent in this country and if you have that winning spirit, you will not be kept down.
Do you prefer cats or dogs?
I like cats, but we recently I got a puppy which I totally adore! It is very nice to see the displays of unconditional love from a dog.
What is your favourite meal?
I like a good beef fillet. Luckily, we live in a country where good quality meat is easy to get hold of at an affordable rate!
What basic improvements would you want to see in the sport sector within the country?
It would be great if sports codes can work together, sharing facilities and resources, since we all struggle financially. Sport has a much bigger role in society that merely recreation. It can help build communities and open doors all over the world. Until the time that a proper portion of the budget can be allocated to sport, the support of the private sector is crucial.
Where would your holiday destination be and why?
I love exploring cities with rich heritage and culture, learning the ways of the locals and seeing architecture lasting centuries already. Next on my list is Italy!
What inspires you to keep working so hard?
There is major potential in Namibian rugby to become a considerable force in the world. There are so many exciting things happening at the moment and plans are falling into place for moving into a more professional era of the sport in Namibia. Being part of something this big and working hard at it with a team of experts is exhilarating.
If you were stuck on a boat with Helalia Johannes, Frankie Fredericks and Tjiuee Uanivi and Johanna Benson and you had to eat two of them, who would you plot with and who are the two people you would eat?
Unfortunately, all the athletes are too skinny if you were to survive on any, so I would work with them all to get hold of Tjiuee who has a bit more flesh around the bones. And after that I would keep Frankie alive, because he is my hero, can’t eat him!
What qualities do you look for in a man? Someone who is a best friend; whom I can share my joys and disappointments with. I love good sense of humour, intelligence, loyalty and trust. Someone who knows me at my worst and still loves me, and supports me in anything I do. I am extremely lucky to be married to such a man!
What phrases or sayings have gotten you through the darkest times in life? From Finding Nemo: “Just keep swimming.” And from the Bible in Matthews 6, if the Lord looks after the birds and flowers and I am worth more, He will definitely look after me.
What advice would you give to people with an interest in sports especially Rugby? Just start. Contact the NRU if you are not sure where to go, but if you are wondering about it, try. Sport is a vehicle to get you anywhere in the world if you have talent and work hard enough at it.