Emmanuel Sebareme is UWC’s golden boy who plays Varsity Cricket and captains the Varsity Football side, but his journey has been met with several hardships as he recalls the days he walked for hours just to play the sport he loves.
Emmanuel Sebareme was born just outside a refugee camp in Rwanda whereafter his parents fled the country during the genocide. After five years of walking and hitch-hiking, he and his family made their way to South Africa where they settled in Cape Town in 2001.
He said, “I’m grateful that I met the right friends, who were very supportive and made me feel welcome. They never made me feel like I was struggling because they treated me like I was one of them.”
Sebareme’s cricket journey started when he was walking back from the shop with his mother and his friends were playing in the street. He then caught a loose ball and they were so surprised that he caught it that they asked him to join them. He then took it up in primary and high school and his passion for the sport grew.
Arriving in South Africa was not the end of his struggles, as he recalls what he had to endure to further himself in the sport. He would leave home at 6AM on a Sunday to take a half-hour train journey to Wynberg for cricket trials, and walk for another half an hour to reach the cricket grounds where he would then have to play cricket and make the journey back home, all using a map that his mother drew for him to guide him. “Looking back it was tough, but it’s what keeps me going today.”
He also couldn’t afford the necessary cricket kit, playing in white jeans and a shirt without a collar until he made the Western Province side, where he also started to play with spikes instead of trainers. “I never looked at how I looked, to me it was about what I could bring and what kind of cricket I was playing. I knew that I was there to play and that’s all that matters,” said Sebareme.
Seberame, who was the leading wicket-taker after the round-robin stages of Varsity Cricket for 2019, believes that his work ethic and determination have helped him to reach where he is today. Despite not making the semi-finals for Varsity Cricket, Sebareme still has to stay in game-mode as he returns back to training with the football side on Monday, to prepare for their Varsity Football semi-final.
“I feel like my role within the team and as the captain is to make them feel comfortable and make them fit in, and ensure that they’re focused. I want to bring that calmness to the team, as well as experience.”
Sebareme doesn’t want to just inspire his team, he wants to be able to change lives through sport.
“The game just keeps giving back to me and that’s why I put in so much time. You learn that you may be in situations that are hard, but when you hear other people’s stories you realise that other people are also going through the same things. It taught me to be grateful for what I have, I want to change someone’s life.”
By Bronwen Bain