The Curious Q&A with Rugby Player, Selebalo Mopeli

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Selebalo Mopeli

In my opinion, one of the most admirable qualities males have is the tolerance they have to physical pain. Males treat pain like a tiny pinch and most even use the slogan, ‘no pain, no gain.’

I spent my childhood as a female perplexed that what would have me screaming and wailing in agony is what a male tolerates with occasional sharp breaths inhaled and a momentary look of discomfort on his face.

I am particularly intrigued by rugby players and how they keep persisting to play a sport that in my opinion is a voluntary request for brain damage. In the words of comedian Trevor Noah, “You do not play rugby, you suffer rugby!”

Curious to find out what makes one persist in playing rugby, I recently came across a famous Mosotho player whose sentiments for rugby blew my mind to the point that I too might just consider training to be one. Just kidding!

Kindly introduce yourself and give us insight to why you started playing rugby.

My name is Selebalo Mopeli. I am a 27 year old male athlete from Ha-Ts’osane in Maseru district and I started playing rugby in the year 2015. The reason I started playing rugby is a funny one because I never really intended to take it seriously.

The honest reason for playing was that I needed a fun way to lose weight without giving myself the pressure of a strict diet or gym sessions. In short, all I wanted was to lose weight because whether women believe it or not, men too dream of having a perfect body.

As time went on, I realized that I loved rugby and took it on as a hobby. Looking at how well I have perfected my skills over the past few years, I realize that I honestly killed two birds with one stone – I am in great physical shape and I have acquired a new talent!

Rugby is a very gruesome sport, what makes you persistent to keep playing despite the risk of body injury?

I really do not think about the body harm that much. To be frank, I think the adrenaline rush I get when the team I am playing for on the field gets a win is actually enough to keep me going. The pain is not really an issue.

Like any male athlete, my biggest concern is winning the game. If that comes at the expense of a little scratch on my elbow, there are always plasters in the closest chemist.

On a serious note, I think there are two factors that contribute to my persistence despite the danger of this sport. First, the training that goes before a match is rigorous enough to give me tolerance to any pain. Second, I just love to win!

How exactly do you keep fit?

At first, I used to play without training until I realized that to build a stamina to run in the field, I needed to run as frequently as possible. I began to train on my own and I would find myself looking forward to playing because my body had been equipped with the strength to perform at my best on the field.

I also hydrate a lot. I think a good athlete’s best asset is a plain old bottle of water because of the great metabolic boost you get from it.

What are some of the challenges you have faced as a rugby player in Lesotho?

Well first of all, Lesotho is a country wherein rugby is not taken as seriously. The lack of funding or investment on rugby players has demotivated many people.

I too have faced grueling financial difficulties in maintaining my body or even going for practice. Many athletes have given up and some even turned to drugs because there is little to no support whatsoever for them in Lesotho.

What keeps you going when the going gets tough?

I have a cousin in South-Africa who plays rugby. He motivates me to keep pushing no matter what and I draw strength from watching just how far he has come with the sport. No matter how tough it gets, I always push ahead because of him.

What is your aspiration with regard to this sport?

I am currently a fervent player of the Maseru Warriors Rugby Club. From them I have learnt the need to constantly improve in everything I do.

My greatest desire is to become part of Lesotho’s national rugby team so that I can represent my country internationally. I am willing to put in the work that will qualify me for such a spot in the national team.

Lastly, what valuable life lesson has rugby taught you?

Honestly, it’s to place value in the things I do and ensure that I see things through. A lot of people do things for applause but rugby has taught me that the best motivation comes from within. I learn every day to place value on everything I do and to work hard enough to see my commitments through.

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Grace is an uprising youth activist who uses her voice to inspire and inform. She has worked internationally as the Deputy Secretary General with Model UN Impact. This is where she advocated for youth inclusivity in the implementation of the SDGs and further launched projects such as PHAHAMA MOSALI. She is currently the youngest SDGs Ambassador for the internationally renowned Global Citizens Innovative Solutions SDGs Challenge.