A story of a schoolboy that became one of the cool guys by serving others for a purpose greater than himself.
Christopher Solomon, Grade 11 learner of Helpmekaar Kollege in Johannesburg, takes the supporting of his favourite schoolboy rugby team to the next level. He puts passion to work, week in and week out, without the expectation of getting any reward from it and with the diligence attributed only to those exceptional few who have walked the lonely road of the extra mile.
Christopher, or Slap Chip as his team mates affectionately refer to him, is the schoolboy rugby team manager of the up-and-coming Helpies 1XV.
Christopher Solomon deservingly celebrating success in this year’s VirsekerBeeld Trophy for large schools with team captain TiaanScholtz.
When Christopher realised he is the only one of his group of close-knit friends who is not involved in rugby at the school, he stopped wishing and started doing something about it. He took the initiative and offered his organising skills to the better of the team and it paid off. He says he never was a great sportsman, but his love for the game of rugby knows no bounds. Solomon says: “ At any high school there is always talk of the legendary traditions and discipline in the first XV and I wanted to be part of that. As a team manager I was on the inside, experiencing the structures myself. For me it is a great honour to be part of something bigger than myself. I can now say I am part of the team and that makes me immensely proud. I don’t regard it as work, I love every minute of it. Few people can say that and that’s enough for me.”
He started managing the team at under-16 age group level and progressed to the 1XV with some of his former team mates this year. Christopher’s impressive 2-metre frame can be seen next to the field casting a long shadow as the action hots up for the brown-jerseys, willing them on and always ready to help hydrate an exhausted player, or give a much needed word of encouragement when the going gets tough.
Christopher is a lad that believes in doing things right even when there’s no one watching him. He is one of the many unsung heroes; those schoolboys working tirelessly in the backroom to give their team the edge in this ever changing world of schoolboy rugby,and things are changing rapidly towards a more focussed onslaught to continuously improve the standard of rugby as the competition hots up with every passing year. Gone are the days when 15 boys took the field and played with boyish enthusiasm hoping for a good time. These days success is often measured in numbers, in winning margins, in statistics, in make-believe rankings, in provincial players, in attracting future talent and to get there takes a squad of focussed, multi-disciplined individuals.
Christopher Solomon and the injured Liam van den Bergh enjoying the game from the sideline.
He is known mostly by reputation but this pleasant, humble, soft spoken young man has little to say about himself. He impacts those around him, who stand to give testimony about him:
“Christopher did an incredible job as manager of the 1XV rugby team. He was always doing his duty faithfully, a real stalwart.” Helpmekaar Kollege Rugby Master, Mr. Eugene Marais.
“He did it all for the team. He never expected any reward, recognition or anything whatsoever in return. He just wanted to be part of the ‘Brown Jersey’. Helpmekaar 1XV coach, Mr. Shaun Jackson.
“This is easy. Without his support half of the requirements before the game, during the game and after the game, and I am talking about all those things that players expect just to be there, wouldn’t have been there. Imagine running onto the field and that roll of tape was not there for your socks, or you wanted to strap but the scissors were missing, or you needed to answer the call of nature but there was no paper…..That guy that calls the team before the match before the referee gets upset with them…..Christopher was THAT guy. He cleaned up more after a player in one season than the player’s mother did his entire life. A person like this, a guy that gives so much of himself for the success of others, for that which he believes in wholeheartedly, that is a REAL SUPPORTER.” Helpmekaar 1XV coach, Mr. Johan van Wyk.
Helpmekaar Head boy, Dylan Meyer says that Christopher could be heard bellowing encouragement from the side of the field, even exceeding the calls for action of the coaches. Captain Tiaan Scholtz agrees and says that Christopher was at every game, sorting out the admin and making it possible that the players could focus on giving their best on the field. Dameon Venter adds that his duties included making those shakes for all the guys and doing all the small stuff they don’t even think of. Inside centre Zandré Kruger jokes as he says that Christopher gave them water every six practice sessions or so. Team mates laugh at this jibe, but rugby should be fun, that’s what that team is about.The matric centre continues to say Christopher is a beast who was always there, no matter how far they had to travel. Big Michael Long, the anchor man, agrees that Christopher always put the needs of the team before his own needs and always did what’s best for the team. Whilst Triston Venter calmly agrees Chuiner van Rooyen comes in from the back and adds that he brings a mean attitude with a smile that can melt your heart, to which another leader in the group Mark Snyman agrees. Daniel Coetsee talks about Christopher’s positive attitude and the big loose forward Liam van den Berg says he always has a joke to share, he’s a lekker guy. Tristan Oosthuizen, the flyhalf, true to the position (wink) simply says he was an intimidation tool because he is so tall. The other teams gave him just one look and knew there was trouble that day. Ignis Meyer, the front ranker, points to the fact that he too walked around in his ‘customary practice gear’ with the rest of the team for the captain’s run on Fridays. Ruhan Viviers concludes that Christopher was with them through the good times as well as the bad.
Christopher Solomon, a true supporter, heart and soul, and arms and legs…..and legs…..and legs….