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A bittersweet ending as Le Roux prepares to bid farewell to Saints

By Avuyile Sawula , in Water Sports | Featured Water Sports | News , at 2024-02-27 Tags: ,

One of the most decorated schools’ water polo head coaches in South Africa, Etienne Le Roux, will enjoy a last hurrah with his St Stithians College girls’ team at the Reef Cup, which takes place in Johannesburg over the weekend.

The annual tournament, hosted by Saints, will welcome 20 girls’ teams, with Le Roux’s side eager to retain the title St Stithians won in 2023, when they defeated Roedean School in the final.

Le Roux is a familiar face on the water polo scene in South Africa, having represented the national team before making a switch to coaching full-time.

Now, after almost five years at the Johannesburg school, he is set to move to Cape Town’s Rondebosch Boys’ High School.

Speaking to SuperSport Schools ahead of the tournament, he said he wasn’t dealing with too many emotions, with his team looking forward to the spectacle and task at hand.

“Not too sure about emotional. We’ve still too much to do, for now,” Le Roux said.

“The team is feeling good, especially after such an amazing showing at the Old Petrian’s Tournament, where we really came together and played at our best.”

Le Roux joined Saints in 2019, and ever since then the water polo programme at the school has been on an upward curve.

Last year, he led the girls’ side to an incredible record that saw the team set new standards and make history by winning a whopping eight tournaments during the season, which included cleaning up at the Prestige Cup, Saints Invitational, and at the National Aquatics Festival.

Deciding to leave St Stithians was a tough decision, Le Roux admitted.

“I joined Saints in 2019. It has been a wonderful experience, especially getting to work with such committed coaches and parents, who are the backbone of a programme like this.

“I’ve met some incredible people and will have lifelong relationships from my time here.

“It was not an easy decision to leave at all. I will miss the Saints’ water polo community very much,” he added.

Following on from the astonishing achievements of 2023, Saints has found 2024 to be a far more challenging season, with new young players moving into the 1st team. However, they will draw inspiration from reaching the final of the Old Petrian’s Cup this past weekend.

In that game, they went down 6-9 to Cape Town’s Herschel Girls in a thrilling contest. Le Roux said his team will bank on their confidence and the backing of their home crowd in the Reef Cup.

“It has been quite a tough season, but that is the beauty of sport,” he reckoned. “We can learn lessons every day and every season, which just helps us grow as humans and as athletes.

“For the Reef Cup, it is always nice to play at home, as you just feel more comfortable, and the support is always a nice boost.

“We proved to ourselves [at the Old Petrian’s Tournament], most importantly, that we can compete against anyone around. We need to stay focussed and confident in our abilities.”

Le Roux’s departure from Gauteng will not only be felt by Saints but also by the Gauteng Water Polo Association after his many years of service.

Over the past decade, he’s brought back eight gold medals for the Central Gauteng A side from inter-provincial tournaments.

Now, he wants to see the school and the region continue to grow the sport.

“Water polo has given me so much; my only wish is that it will give back to those involved, as well,” he said.

“There will be good times, and there will be bad times but, no matter what, the water polo family needs to stick together.

“To the girls, I would say, don’t let the world change your smile, let your smile change the world.”

St Stithians is drawn in Pool D of the Reef Cup and will take on Afrikaanse Hoër Meisieskool (Pretoria), Falcon College, Reddam House Umhlanga, and St Peter’s College.

Their opening clash will be against Zimbabwe’s Falcon College at 11:10 on Thursday in the main pool.

Catch all the action LIVE on SuperSport Schools.

Avuyile Sawula
error: Sorry ol' chap, those shenanigans are not permissible.