David Botes was recently honoured with Parel Vallei’s “Bulldog Award” as the matriculant who embodied the school’s values the best in his final year. He also received the Elrine Prinsloo Trophy, for his positive impact.
As his remarkable school sports career nears its end, we spoke to Botes to gain more insight into his time at Parel Vallei, and to find out about his plans for the future.
Botes played down his recent achievements, saying the award was something he hadn’t been focussed on, and he hadn’t expected to win it. “I think it’s just that whenever I do something I try to do it to the best of my abilities, whether it’s sport or studying, I don’t like doing anything half-heartedly,” he said.
This is a mantra he has lived since a young age, captaining teams in different sporting codes throughout his time at the school, while earning more than 50 first-team caps in both hockey and cricket.
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Born in Somerset West, Botes developed his love for sport at De Hoop Primary School, where he played cricket and hockey, but also excelled as a skilled baseball player. He was part of the Western Province u11 and u12 teams and was also selected to represent South Africa at the World Cup in Taiwan.
His cricket abilities were evident from early on. In grade 8 at Parel Vallei, he captained the A-team but found himself on the field with the first team doing pre-season preparation by the end of the year.
He also played squash for the A team in grades eight and nine but gave that up as it began to clash with some of the many other sports he excelled in.
In grade 10, Botes was a reserve for the first team hockey while captaining the under-16 A team. This year, he took on the role of vice-captain as Parel Vallei’s hockey team broke into the top 30 ranked teams in the country.
“Hockey taught me a lot, not just about the sport itself, but our first-team coach, Mr. Michael Van Rensburg, also taught me a lot about the mental aspect of sports, which I could then apply to my cricket.”
In 2018 and 2019, he earned provincial colours for hockey, but he said cricket has always been his primary focus.
“I feel like you have to practice a lot more for cricket, while with other sports, you might only need to train once or twice a week and you’ll be able to play on the weekend.
His love for the technical aspects of the game and his drive for perfection become evident when he talks about his current obsession. “Golf is probably my favourite sport at the moment,” Botes reckoned.
“I’ve only been playing for a year, but I really enjoy it. I like the fact that you can play with anyone. It’s very challenging, but that makes it even more enjoyable as you get better.”
After scoring more than 1 600 runs for the 1st XI, there are many memories that he treasures. He recalled his two centuries for Parel Vallei last year, one against Bishops and one at the Pearson tournament, as some of his highlights in the first team, but his innings of 121 against Curro Durbanville this year stands out, along with an historic victory over their local rivals, Somerset College.
With Botes captaining the side, Parel Vallei got one over Somerset College in “the Ashes” for the first time in 21 years.
“That was very special for me,” he said. “I was in good form before the match, but I struggled on the day, so I was so proud of how the younger guys stepped up. We won that game as a team, and that’s what makes it so amazing.”
The Ashes is a two-day derby match that most players will experience only once or twice. However, both Davids and his opposing captain, Dion Claassens, played in the game for a fourth time this year.
“When I was in grade nine we were a very young team, and to see how the players have grown over the years, until this year when we finally won it, is truly special.”
As if his schedule was not busy enough, Botes also captained the u17 Helderberg Hawks team to victory in the BPL tournament, and this year he repeated that success when he was awarded man-of-the-match in the final for the u19 Helderberg Wild Cats as they triumphed in the revamped Boland T20 League.
He will continue playing cricket next year, while he studies towards a degree in industrial engineering at the University of Stellenbosch. “I’ve practiced there a couple of times already, so I’ll be joining them again when the season starts next year,” he said.
Whatever he chooses to do in the future, you can be sure that David Botes will be setting the standard, with an untiring work ethic that Parel Vallei acknowledged in the two awards he received this year after a five-year journey filled with exceptional accomplishments.
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