My name is Awande Malinga, and I am 16 years old. I am a grade 10 pupil at Midstream College in Centurion, and I really love my school.

When I look back at my very first day at Midstream, I was very nervous because I wasn’t sure what would happen. Going from primary school to high school is a big jump, and we were not sure how the seniors would treat us. We actually thought they might be mean, and bash on us.

As it turned out, the first two weeks of high school were some of the very best days ever! We basically had orientation that whole time, and the seniors were all so nice to us. We wore our PE clothes instead of uniform for those two weeks, and we were shown what it was like to be at the high school. That was a lot of fun!

Now that I look at it, high school is a lot more fun than primary school. There are so many more opportunities to grow and challenge yourself, and there are exciting trips to look forward to. Well, there were trips to look forward to before the global Covid-19 pandemic.

The reason my parents chose for me to come to Midstream College was quite simple. It is very close to home, so I can actually walk or ride my bike to school. That is pretty awesome.

My parents also really liked what the school had to offer, which was important for my education.

I really love my school, and I really do appreciate all the support that they provide for me. I play squash, which is not a mainstream or well-known sport, but the school acknowledges all of my achievements and announces all of them in front of the whole school. That always makes me very proud to be at Midstream, and I know that whatever I achieve will be recognised. When I made SA Schools, all my friends and teachers were so happy for me, and that was really a proud moment. I was very lucky that I was introduced to the sport at a very young age. My dad was my first coach, and he got me into the sport around the age of seven. That early start was great for my early development, and I have since gone on to get coaching from other great coaches who have taught me many other aspects of my game.

Even though I have achieved a lot in my sport, I make sure to stay focused and humble, because there is still so much to learn. Being number one in the rankings is tough, but I don’t put pressure on myself as number one. That has never been my focus, but rather to keep improving all the time.

Squash is quite a singular sport, and it is very mind – focused. I enjoy that about it, because I only have to worry about getting my mindset right before a match. There is still so much for me to learn, and I am doing that all the time.

I train with my school A team mates, but I also train with older people from outside to help with my development. I find it all very helpful.

Juggling sport and academics is obviously very important, and I have a set routine that prioritises my studies, but also gives me plenty of time for school sport. I go to school from 7am to 2pm, then go home and study first, before sport. After training, I go home and study some more. Weekends are also all about balance, because it is important for me to get a good education. In school, my favourite subject is business studies. I really enjoy learning about entrepreneurship – but I also like it because I like the money side of it!

Though my main focus is squash, I also enjoy athletics, with my best events being the 100m, the 200m, the 400m and the long jump. Those events all help me so much with my squash, because I get better speed, my agility improves and I can also be quicker on my feet. All of these things are very good for my squash. My sporting hero has been Usain Bolt, ever since I was young. I just think what he has achieved is amazing!

Going to a school like Midstream has been great because there are so many sports on offer. The school is well known for rugby, hockey and netball, and we actually have a number of SA Schools caps at the school.

There are also some cool traditions at the school, which we all partake in. When you arrive as a grade 8 pupil, there is a small gong that you have to hit. I guess it signifies that you have arrived and are now part of the school.

When you finish grade 12, there is a higher gong that you get to hit, and I am looking forward to hitting that one in a few years!

I also love our school song, which we all learn very quickly.

I think streaming school sport is going to be really awesome for everyone. For me, personally, being able to watch footage of myself will allow me to awe the things I need to work on.

I think streaming will also be very nice for friends and family, because they can also show their support, take screenshots to show that I’m playing and watch my matches while there are no spectators allowed.

Squash is also not as well known a sport in South Africa, so streaming our matches will be great for exposure and teaching more people about it.