We meet firefighter Zinhle Ndawonde to find out more about the burning drive that’s made our Springbok women’s rugby vice-captain.

In a city of bold culture and personality like Durban, you need to stand out to be noticed and Zinhle Ndawonde sure does that. A Springbok rugby player and aviation fire fighter at King Shaka International Airport, she is the pride of her family, community and of our nation.

Thirty-one-year-old Zinhle hails from Inanda township and has since overcome major obstacles to reach the pinnacle of the game. She inspires many every day with her determination and drive to not let her circumstances define her, and despite her humble beginnings holds her community in high esteem for their unity and how they looked out for their own. 

Zinhle’s sports, from first discovering soccer to later playing rugby, was a welcome distraction from the drug abuse and other bad elements that were prevalent in her neighbourhood.  

“I told myself that I don’t want to be like the other girls that will succumb to these challenges and that is what pushed me to join sports.”

Zinhle shares that being part of the Springbok women’s team is a true honour and blessing for her as she’d always wanted to represent her country. 

We seized the opportunity to ask SA’s vice-captain a few questions in keeping with our ethos. 

Q&A WITH Zinhle 

What does ‘living better’ mean to you? 

Living better means appreciating life and what you have at this moment in time. I’m aspiring to live better by making sure that I do what I love to the best of my ability, but in doing so also inspire other women and the next generation to appreciate themselves, their life, people close to them and the passion they have for either sport, businesses etc.

What legacy would you like to leave behind?

I want to leave a legacy where I have made an impact in our younger generation. As an athlete I believe that being a player alone is not enough but  being an inspiration to the next generation is the future. My goal is to impact the younger generation, especially those who feel they could never be anything in life because of their situation at home. I want to show them I was once where they are, but did not let that impact my future. Instead I used that everyday as motivation to better my life. 

What 2 valuable lessons you would like to share with South Africa?

  1. As humans and through life we are all bruised emotionally and physically, and we carry scars from the past, or present – but only you can change those Scars into Stars.
  2. Life always brings back what you put in, so if you do nothing you get nothing, but if you put in the hard work you will reap the reward.

Where do you go to escape and connect with yourself?

The beach, early morning sunrise. I just sit by sand and connect with my inner soul.

Do you have an encouraging quote for us? 

It doesn’t really matter where you come from or how bad your background is, that does not define who you are or what your future will look like. Always look at the situation you are in and let that be something that strengthens you and encourages you to fight for a better future so you become a better person than the situation. I never let my background discouraged me, instead I used it as encouragement for me to fight for a better future in life.