LWANDISWA: [00:00:00] To be honest, I think that period made me focus a lot more on who I am outside of cricket. Because of course, life threw me a curveball where I couldn’t play cricket for a long time. So, it forced me to focus on myself in terms of who I am as a person outside of cricket. And I did that, and that’s when my spiritual journey got deeper. It was during that time where I was closer to God. I really found comfort in God during that time.
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JESSE: [00:01:22] Welcome to the Smart Athlete Podcast. I’m your host, Jesse Funk. My guest today comes all the way from South Africa. Unfortunately, he’s not here with me, so we have a little bit of time difference. But he’s maybe going to get something to eat after he’s done talking to me because it’s well in the evening, even though it’s midday for me. He’s a pro cricketer. If you don’t know anything about cricket, start back with my episode with Mangi, a couple episodes ago, first pro cricketer, and he recommended my guest today. Welcome to the show, Lwandiswa Zuma.
LWANDISWA: [00:01:51] Thank you so much. Thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here.
JESSE: [00:01:54] Absolutely. Thanks for joining me. I say it every time. And so for you listening, I’m sorry, I say it but I try to remember gratitude. I’m always thankful that the internet enables me to talk to people across the planet. As we were talking about before we got recording, I basically just live in my house 23 hours a day most days. And so having the opportunity to basically “get out” and talk to somebody on the other side of the planet is nice, because when would I come across you otherwise? I wouldn’t. So, it’s awesome.
LWANDISWA: [00:02:31] Yeah. Well, better safe than sorry, isn’t it?
JESSE: [00:02:35] Yeah. So, we were talking about you got a lot of time on your hands. We’ll try not to spend too much time on this, but you guys are back in lockdown with COVID in trying to keep things off. So, you’re off from training. So, how are you doing? How are you keeping yourself sane? What are you doing around the house so you’re not getting fat in between being off from training?
LWANDISWA: [00:03:02] Yeah. Well, we just got the message like, what’s today? Today’s Friday. We got the message on Wednesday that — Well, the President spoke on a Sunday and that’s when he notified the country that we’re going back on to level four. So, we got messages on Wednesday to say that we’re no longer allowed to be together. So, we pretty much need to stay in our own spaces and try, you know. But I still try and train. Like, for instance, this morning, I can still — I’m allowed to still go out for a run or do a bit of a home workout outside.
So, I try to do that to take a bit of time, maybe read a book or two. It’s pretty much the second day. So, I’m still trying to get back into finding a routine really that will keep me entertained for most of the day. Up until then, it’s like today, it’s been a hell of a boring day. But I hope to find something again, that’s going to keep me entertained for the majority of the day.
JESSE: [00:04:03] Yeah. So, you’re saying before we got going, you were saying you went out for like a 4K run this morning. Is that just like, hey, I’m doing it and it’s my thing or are you like talking with the new teammates in northwest and saying, hey, I’m putting in my time, are you putting in your — Like, is there any of that, or is it all on your own?
LWANDISWA: [00:04:26] Yeah, it’s on my own to understand to be honest. And to be honest with you, I hate running. I know you love running, running is your thing. I hate running. But as an athlete, I’m sure you know you just have to do what you have to do to be in your best shape. I’m a bowler. I need a lot of endurance in my legs, and long distance is a great thing for that. So, although I hate it, I’ve got to do it to improve my own self in terms of the bowler that I am.
So, that’s why. It’s not part of the program. It’s kind of sort of the only thing at the moment. And so a new trainer just got appointed now, so I’m sure he’s going to send us programs as soon as he’s settled in. But for now, it’s all on us. And yeah, I’m pretty much doing my own work on the side and trying to make sure that I don’t slip into the trap of being comfortable in this lockdown and be a couch potato. I just actually wake up in the morning and do the training as if everything was normal.
JESSE: [00:05:25] So, I mean you got to get them running in so I want to give you a quick tip on the running side. Now, I don’t expect you to get into racing shape and come run a race with me or anything. But one one way, or kind of two ways to make it a little more bearable, and this is like a shortcut to your brain, basically. I used this back in college, you know, when I was running those Fast 5Ks I was telling you about before we got going is first smile when you’re out running, not like the whole time like a maniac.
Don’t just smile the whole time, but like, you could set a timer on your watch like every few minutes or something just force yourself. Because when we smile you feel better, you make yourself feel better. So, it works both ways. When you feel good, you smile and when you smile, you feel good.
And then the other thing and this is a trick that I heard about this championship coach using and then we used with our training program, we use it for when we are running hills specifically. But like, if say you’re out doing sprints or something, when you get done with one, like, say you run a hill or you run a sprint, say out loud I love sprints.
Because we like — it’s the same thing like smiling. We associate that word love with so many positive feelings that it helps turn that mentality where you’re like, oh, this sucks I’m suffering into, at minimum, this is bearable, and I can do this. But if not, it can turn it more positive. It sounds stupid, man and I know it sounds stupid, but I promise it works. If you put it to work, it will help.
LWANDISWA: [00:07:08] I’ll give it a shot. Tomorrow morning I will give it a shot. I’ll give it a shot.
JESSE: [00:07:12] You got to commit and do it, at least a week, hopefully two weeks, and then keep a journal, see how you feel and then see how it goes. I’ll check back in with you and see how it went.
LWANDISWA: [00:07:23] I’ll definitely try that. I need all the help to run…, so I’ll try it.
JESSE: [00:07:29] Well, and — So, if anybody checks out Lwandiswa’s Instagram, like you’re a pretty big guy, like you’re a big muscley guy. So, it’s not like long distance running is your thing. You know, you’re super fit. So, it’s not a matter of you got a whole bunch of weight to lose or anything. It’s just, it’s going to — you’re carrying around more weight, it’s going to be harder on you than somebody like [inaudible 00:07:52] kind of lean because that’s what I do. So, yeah, any help we can give you, I’m happy to try to make the — [crosstalk]
LWANDISWA: [00:08:00] I’m happy to receive all the help. Yeah.
JESSE: [00:08:06] So, what — I mean, what are you doing conditioning wise to bowl? And so for my US listeners, Lwandiswa is basically the equivalent of a pitcher in cricket. He’s the one throwing the ball around. So, I mean, conditioning wise, what are you doing like when you get together with the team to get ready to not have shoulder issues? ‘Cause you fast pitch, don’t you? Or you’re a fast bowler?
LWANDISWA: [00:08:36] That’s right. So, it works differently for different people. That’s why we have conversations and one on ones with a trainer in the preseason. So, to pretty much find out what works for you. Because what could make me a quick bowler wouldn’t be the same as a Dale Steyn, for instance. We work differently. For me specifically, I rely a lot on power to get my pace. So, I like to do a lot of things in gym that will improve my power in terms of pace, but as well, but in saying that, also to try to remain as supple as I can. Because you can’t be stiff, you’re going to have a lot of injuries if it’s like that.
So, that’s what I try to, that’s what I try to focus on. I’m still trying to figure out the perfect way that works for me as I go on. But for now, I know what does work for me is a lot of explosive stuff in gym; clean shirts and all that type of stuff. That usually helps for me. And also focus a lot on my shoulders. A lot of my pace comes from my shoulders, so I try to make sure that it’s nice and strong at all times, it doesn’t fall under strain at any time of the season. So, that’s pretty much what I do to make me as quick as I can for as long as I can.
JESSE: [00:09:58] Yeah. And that reminds me, last week I was talking with a couple trainers that wrote this book called Functional Training Anatomy. In the book it talked about you got to be flexible, but you have to have like high mobility, which is confusing to a lot of people because they’re like, well, if I’m flexible, I’m mobile, right? And they’re like, well, no, because you can be flexible and like pull your arm back. It’s like, okay, it can move.
But can you put power through that whole range of motion? And like, that’s what I’m imagine like, you’ve got to have is that power through the whole throw. You can’t just like, okay, if you can stretch, that’s great. But if you don’t have any power, like, what are you going to do?
LWANDISWA: [00:10:39] Yeah, absolutely.
JESSE: [00:10:41] So, I was trying to read a little bit about bowlers, and kind of the job you’ve got going on. And I know there’s different styles of bowling, different speeds. And again, since I don’t know much just treat me like a five-year-old, basically, you’re trying to teach cricket for the first time? Do you have longevity, you know, being a quick bowler, having that power, like, as you get older? Do you have to learn the kind of like, thrown with curves and doing all that stuff? Or can you just continue with your style throughout your career?
LWANDISWA: [00:11:18] Quick bowling is a lot of strain on the body. The body was never built to bowl. So, it’s a lot of strain on the body, especially in the test match format, or the longer format of the game. Because you bowl so many overs, you get through so many overs in a day, it’s very, very straining on the body. That’s why you find that a lot of the times it’s the bowlers that retire before the batters because it’s a lot of strain on the body.
And you also find that the older bowlers get, the more they use the pace, probably because of the body just deteriorating as they’re getting older. You know, you do get your exceptions that goes the whole way through.
I mean, for instance, James Anderson is approaching his 40s now. He pays for England and he looks like he can go for another 10 years. You know? But in general, bowlers do retire quicker because of the amount of strain that’s on the body. That’s why it’s important for us to really take care of our bodies as much as we can; eat the right stuff, drink the right stuff to prolong our careers, essentially.
But we have it tough, batters have it — We have it tough out there on the field. It’s really straining. I know when you watch cricket, it doesn’t really look like it’s that straining. But I promise you, if I were to come to America tomorrow and make you bowl two overs, you wouldn’t be able to wake up tomorrow. That’s how sore your body would be.
JESSE: [00:12:49] I don’t doubt it. I feel like we were talking about before we’re going, we’re talking about like World Record 10K pace, and those guys are running 26 minutes for a 10K. It just looks like they’re out for a jog. Like, the pros like you, like in your sport make it look easy because you do it so well. But it’s like, and I was talking about this with Kim Vandenberg, who’s a retired US Olympic swimmer.
We’re talking about the idea of like, pros or when the Olympics come up, we talked about pros versus Joes. Like, how do you get somebody average, and put them up against the pros so you can see the difference? So, it would be a train wreck if it was like, you and I got together and you’re trying to teach me how to bowl. There’s a reason I run, there’s no ball involved.
LWANDISWA: [00:13:42] Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Absolutely.
JESSE: [00:13:45] But it would give a pretty good illustration of how good you are at it. So, maybe we can get all the COVID stuff situated, I could figure out how to fly over, we could film some terrible, terrible bowling lessons.
LWANDISWA: [00:14:03] We can make something happen. Absolutely.
JESSE: [00:14:07] So, that reminds me, I listened to an interview you did with a cricket podcast. And that kind of when you had transitioned — I don’t know if it was your transition because I think earlier on, you were playing soccer as a kid and then you kind of moved in to cricket. I don’t know if it was that transition or the transition from playing T20 to full test, the longer format, that you were like, you felt like your body was just beaten up. Do you know what I’m talking about?
LWANDISWA: [00:14:36] Yeah, I know exactly what you’re talking about. See, in school cricket, it’s not like the exact same format as it is in professional cricket, right, when it comes to the longer format of the game. So, in school cricket, you do play 20 overs, you do play 50 overs, but that’s pretty much it. The really testing format of cricket is the longer format, the test match format or the — we call it the four day format, or we call it first class cricket here.
If we say first class cricket, we’re basically referring to the test match screen. If we say [inaudible 00:15:10] cricket, we’re referring to T20s. So, first class cricket is not really played, it’s not played, that format is not played in school, so your body is not really tested. Because if you play a T20 game, you’re only bowling four overs and that’s it, you’re done. If you’re playing a 50 over game, you only bowling 10 overs, that’s it, you’re done.
But when you step into the professional realm, and you start playing first class cricket, you can get through 25 overs in one day, and that’s very strenuous on the body. So, that transition from school into professional cricket was really, really tough for me. And the first time I played that format was when I made my debut in 2014, and that’s when I really really felt it because I think I only bowled like 11-12 overs in the day of that game.
But it felt like I just ran the Comrades Marathon because that’s how tough it was on my body. So, I didn’t feel like school cricket prepared — I don’t feel like school cricket prepares high schoolers, or prepares their bodies enough for professional cricket because that format is not played in school. It’s almost like a shock to your body when that happens. So, that period was really tough, because it was a real shock on my body.
JESSE: [00:16:24] And you were 18-19 at the time?
LWANDISWA: [00:16:28] Oh, 18 at the time.
JESSE: [00:16:30] Yeah. So, I mean, that’s, I think you think about the physical changes you’re undergoing. Because you’re mid-20s now, right, 24-25?
LWANDISWA: [00:16:38] Yeah.
JESSE: [00:16:41] Like, you’re only just now getting into what I would call like, not peak, but near peak, like physical fitness for a lifetime. Like, at 18, you still have so much growing to do. So. I can imagine how big a jump that’s got to be just on the strain of an 18 year old. But I mean, it seems like you’ve definitely grown into it with how strong you are now.
LWANDISWA: [00:17:09] Yeah, definitely. Yeah, I’ve gotten used to it. Of course, when you — Well, I don’t think you ever get use to it. Your body will always be sore, but you’re a whole lot more prepared for it as compared to school. Now you do all the necessary gym work that you need to do. You know exactly what you need to do to try to overcome that type of softness on your body. But it comes with experience. But that’s me.
For some people, they actually don’t find it that hard. Straight from school, they get into cricket into the longer format and their bodies may be sore but they don’t find it that hard. But I really did especially because like I said, I rely a lot on power. So, there’s a lot of effort that I put in when I need to bowl. So, you can imagine the amount of strain that I put my body in. So, when that happened for that long period of time, it was just a shock. But now I still get a bit sore, but obviously, I’m a whole lot more prepared for it [inaudible 00:18:02]
JESSE: [00:18:03] Yeah. Well, I wouldn’t be surprised — maybe not surprised, but astounded if you guys didn’t get sore. I mean, playing three, four or five days, like in a row, just — that’s what I was saying with Mangi, just like, I’m an endurance athlete. But even my longest races were like four and a half hours, and then I’m done. And then I don’t do another one until next month. There’s training and stuff, but you guys are out there for a while.
And in your case, in terms of explosive power, it’s not like, we’re going out for an easy jog for a couple hours and we’re going to do it tomorrow. It’s — [crosstalk] Right, how fast can we bowl over and over and over and over again. And — I lost my train of thought. I’ll see if I can get it back. Nope, it’s gone. That’s okay. So, you want to talk about — Oh, yeah, that’s what it was. So, I think I’d read early on, if you don’t mind talking about it, you had a pretty bad injury, I think I read with your back or something that it put you out for a considerable amount of time.
LWANDISWA: [00:19:20] Yeah. So, again, that was part of the transition in terms of the workload from school cricket into professional cricket. That was a back injury that took me out for 19 months in total. It was really, really, really tough period in my life. I was 18-19 at the time, and I was beginning to accept the reality that my career was over before it even started, because it was not getting better. I mean, the pain on my back in the 16th month was just as bad as it was in the first month.
You know, it’s tough to keep yourself — to be hopeful still, that there’s still a future for you. So, for me to accept that at that tender age, to accept the reality that it’s over was — it hit me really hard, and it put me in a really dark space. Luckily, at the time I did — well, still, today, I’ve got a very supportive family, they were with me throughout that time, and I’m really appreciative for that.
And at that time, I also had a girlfriend, which was really helped because I was with her a lot of the times and it almost makes you forget about what you’re going through, which was really needed for me at the time. Because to focus too much on it, I remembered I ended up having random tantrums just because I was mad. It would hit me every now and then that damn, it’s done. It’s not getting any better.
And here I was sitting on my couch and watching my age mates move their careers forward, and I’m sitting on the couch not being able to do anything about it. You know, it was — And there was a point in time where the doctors didn’t know what was going on. So, it was really bad to go through that period. But again, it was caused from the transition of the intensity from high school cricket, into professional cricket.
I was fortunate enough while I was in — As soon as I finished my matriculate, I went straight into training with the Dolphins, which is the professional side. And obviously, they train at a way higher intensity than a high school side. And a high school side, would train about twice a week, top up on Friday, play on Saturday.
Whereas with the Dolphins, we train from Monday to Friday at a high intensity, and the coach was the legendary Lance Klusener. So, here I am, as a youngster, bowling in front of Lance Klusener, of course, I’m going to give my own every single bowl. But I wasn’t aware of the transition my body was going through because I have gone from bowling twice in a week at an intensity of about 70% to bowling five times in a week, at an intensity of 100%.
My body took strain because of that. We went to a tournament in Cape — in Stellenbosch, that’s when my back went [inaudible 00:22:07] from overuse, pretty much. I was never really introduced gradually into it, which is what is done now. It was just straight into it. And for me that was — so that’s where the injury came from. And it lasted way longer than it was supposed to. Because I remember when I got injured, the doctors told me, don’t worry, it’s four months, four months. Four months, and you’ll be back into it. Well, 19 months later. You know? It was a really difficult time in my life.
JESSE: [00:22:36] Yeah, I was talking about my own injury and we so I can get at least some idea about how you must have felt because I know I went through a really dark place there. And you fortunately found a way to get back into it. You know, you’re still playing now. When did things start clicking again? When did things start feeling good again? I mean, it was 19 months, but just, was it after 16-17 months, you started to maybe have hope or when did the light start to come back on?
LWANDISWA: [00:23:14] That’s a really good question. I’ve never been asked that question before.
JESSE: [00:23:19] I’m just imagining it wasn’t like, it’s all dark and then it’s all perfect. Like, there’s got to be, you know, there’s some transition there, right?
LWANDISWA: [00:23:26] Absolutely. Absolutely. So, for a good 18 months I’d say. So, in the 18th month was when I started having hope because that’s when I started bowling again. Like one step, two steps and I wouldn’t feel anything. You know, three steps, four steps. Okay. I’m not feeling any pain. Okay. There’s hope now. I hadn’t had that feeling for 18 months of my life. Every time I tried, pain. Okay. Let’s try now after four months, pain.
Let’s try now after two months, pain. Let’s try after one month, pain. So, when I tried and there was no pain, then that hope started coming back that okay, I’m going to be all right. I’m going to be all right. And the month after that, I was able to go, which is crazy. I’m in the Northwest now, my first game of the 19 months I played in the Northwest. So, this field holds a special place in my heart because it was sort of a reassurance to me that game that you’re still fine, and you still have a career in this cricket thing.
JESSE: [00:24:24] Yeah. It always amazes me hearing stories like yours. It’s just like that there’s — I mean, 18 months is a long time for anybody but especially for somebody that age, that’s such a long time. It feels like forever, you know? So, for you listening, I don’t know how old you are. But if you’ve been through college or you’re in college, like 18 months, it’s a year and a half in college. If you think about that period of your life, I mean, that seems like — I mean, it seems like it takes forever to get through and to basically be robbed of what you’re doing; the thing that you do. Did you struggle with the identity of like, who am I now?
Because I know for the longest time, like I have been like, I’m a runner, and I’m a triathlete, and that’s my identity. And I kind of moved away from that. I can’t remember whether I talked to Mangi about this or not, but I talked to guests on occasion. It’s like, who are we? Are we only the thing we do? Or are we more than that? So, I kind of just wonder, especially at such a young age, because that’s the thing you wanted to do; did that go through your mind? Or were you still just like, no, I’m a bowler, it doesn’t matter whether I’m hurt or not?
LWANDISWA: [00:25:55] To be honest, I think that period made me focus a lot more on who I am outside of cricket. Because of course, life threw me a curveball where I couldn’t play cricket for a long time. So, it forced me to focus on myself in terms of who I am as a person outside of cricket. And I did that, and that’s when my spiritual journey got deeper. It was during that time where I was closer to God. I really found comfort in God during that time.
And that really, really kept me going, if I’m being honest, you know? I don’t know, it gave me — It was like I could fall on it whenever I felt like giving up because those thoughts did cross my mind. I did reach a point was like, it’s over. There’s no point in me trying anymore. There’s no point in me going to physio anymore. There’s no point in me being worried about it anymore because it’s over. There would be moments like that.
But then I’d be reassured spiritually that it’s going to be okay, it’s going to be okay. So, I awakened my spiritual side, during that time, of which I’m very appreciative, because I’m still very much aware of that side till today and if it wasn’t for that time, I don’t think I would have paid much attention to that spiritual side till today. So, it did awaken that side of me of which I’m appreciated for. It had to take a time like that for me to realize how important spirituality is to me, and that’s a part of me that I discovered during that time.
JESSE: [00:27:39] It’s always interesting to me whether people carry that on or not, because I think it’s easy, I’ll say easy, but that’s just the best word I have. I don’t know if that’s the right word. I think it’s easy for people to try to reach out to God or reach out to a higher power or something when things are going wrong. But much harder to carry that on when things are going well.
JESSE: So, it’s always interesting to me to see who does and who doesn’t. And I’m certainly not here to judge or say you should or shouldn’t. I don’t know. But just as somebody who’s interested in the human condition, I guess, it’s interesting to see. And like I said in the beginning with trying to be grateful about the opportunity to speak with people on the other side of planet, I feel like trying to have that connection, when things are going well is, at least in part a practicing gratitude and just saying, like I’m glad things are going well, I recognize things are going well. And I’m enjoying what’s happening now, and keeping that perspective. So, it’s cool you’ve kept that going on.
LWANDISWA: [00:28:55] Yeah, no, 100%, 100%. Not just with God, for me, it’s just, I think, the right word to use is spirituality. I’ve gotten in tune with my spiritual side, both with God. There’s also, to not dive deep into it, we also believe in ancestors, in terms of my culture. You’re not forced to, it’s up to you, of course. But majority of us in terms of my culture, we do believe in our ancestors, and that’s what I also believed was able to get me through the time, and that’s also got to do with spirituality. So, I really got intune with that side of me, and I’m really happy that that happened.
JESSE: [00:29:40] It seems like — So, you’ve got a couple of Instagrams. So, we’ll have, in the description, we’ll have links. So, if you don’t know how to spell Lwandiswa, that’s okay because it’ll be in the description, you can click on stuff. So, you got your personal Instagram, and then you’ve also got basically [inaudible 00:29:59] talk with you and you got different kinds of conversations with people and quotes and stuff. So, it seems like you’re trying to reach out and motivate and uplift other people. Which, again, seems like just another gratitude practice, because it’s not just how am I doing? How’s my game playing? But like, how can I lift up other people? So, I mean, did that come out of this whole experience? Or like, how did that get started?
LWANDISWA: [00:30:30] I’ve always been into it, if I’m being honest. I’ve always been open to it from a very young age. I’ve always been interested in it from a very young age. I’ve always listened to guys like Ray Lewis. At a young age, he had a big part to do with it. I’m a big fan of him and the way that he speaks, and in the way that he articulates himself and what he does to uplift people. But it really started from a young age.
I’ve found myself in positions where I’ve had to make quick decisions at a young age. For instance, when I was 13 years of age, I had to make a decision to cut friends off at that age. So, I was aware what was wrong and what was right to that point at that age. So, I believe I’ve always had that gift of being able to differentiate or being able to motivate not only other people, but myself first before I can motivate other people.
I was able to separate myself and make decisions like that at a young age, and that they were going to influence my whole life as a whole. You know? To give you an example, my parents don’t know this, this is probably my first time saying this on an interview, but I got into alcohol at the age of 11. You know, I grew up in the hood, you’re exposed to these things 24/7. There’s no running away from it, which is why I’m also thankful of sports.
It took me away from the street a lot of the time, so I didn’t really have much time to be within that environment all the time, but you’re exposed to it. And I remember I had my first sip of alcohol when I was 11-years-old. But it was more because of who I was associating myself with at the time. I didn’t wake up one day and say, I feel like having alcohol too. No. It was because of what I was seeing, what was happening around me and then I got into it.
And then I realized at the age of 12-13, that this is not going to help me. I’m making the wrong decision for my life right now. So, at that age, that’s when I made the decision of I’m going to cut myself from these people, I’m going to stay indoors. It even got to the point where my mother kept on asking, why are you staying indoors so much now? I couldn’t say it was because I don’t want to drink. But I’d be like, oh, well, yeah, I just enjoy being indoors now.
But I knew what I was doing. I was separating myself from that company to make sure that I’m aligning myself perfectly with what I was trying to achieve. So, that small example goes to show it goes way back even when I was 13 years of age. And then as I got older, I was able to just build on it and build on it and build on it.
So, eventually, I was like, you know what, I’m big into this, I love it. Why not share with people because it can only help. It can only uplift, it can’t do any harm. It can only do good. And I’m all for helping and uplifting people in times of difficulties, and that’s why I started the page. And every quote you’ll see on the page comes from a personal life experience. And that’s why I like sharing things that I’ve personally experienced so that my point of reference is experience. It’s not, I think. No, it’s what I’ve felt and how I dealt with it and that’s why I feel comfortable to share it.
JESSE: [00:33:50] Yeah. So, I’m going to back up a little bit. But I mean, I feel like that’s a big move or a big insight for somebody that’s 12 to look, and look at where you are and go, like this isn’t, I think you said this isn’t going to help me or this isn’t going to get me where I want to go. And then at that age, you’re not thinking about cricket quite yet, are you?
LWANDISWA: [00:34:22] No.
JESSE: [00:34:23] As I didn’t think it was quite there yet. So, then, I mean, that’s half a lifetime ago for you, but can you remember, like, was it like, hey, I just — I want to get out of here? Or I think you were playing soccer, was it I want to play soccer? Like, was there anything else? Was the motivation tied to that or can you remember what kind of went along with that?
LWANDISWA: [00:34:50] I’ll tell you when or what the situation that triggered for me to think like that or to change my approach. You know, I was — You’re correct. I was still playing soccer at the time. I was playing for [inaudible 00:35:02] United. And I remembered that one weekend my parents were in Joburg, I think, so they weren’t home. I saw an opportunity, and they’re not home — just come home, just have a couple of drinks.
And I had a game the following day. I obviously woke up, I wasn’t feeling the best. I went to the game. I was feeling awful and I had a horrible game. Of course, I had a shocker of a game. And it was after that game that I decided this is not [inaudible 00:35:35]. It’s affecting the way that I play.
At the time, soccer was my first love. It’s affecting the way that I play. I’m not used to playing this badly so I need to do something about this. And the only way that I can change this is if I separate myself. Because I was four years younger than the guys I were chilling with at the time.
So, it was very easy to succumb to peer pressure. So, the best solution for me was just to remove myself from that situation. So, that was the moment that triggered me, when I remember I was playing right back, that game, and I remember just being troubled and I had a horrible game. I made that decision right on the field that this is the last time I do this, and I’m going to rectify this and the rest is history.
JESSE: [00:36:23] Yeah, that’s the easy way to sum up the next like 10 years, the rest is history.
LWANDISWA: [00:36:27] Yeah. Yeah.
JESSE: [00:36:30] And here we are. So, I think I saw two, I mean, you’re involved in like, community outreach kind of stuff now too. Is that all tied together? Is that stuff you do with the team or you do that stuff out on your own?
LWANDISWA: [00:36:44] Yeah, from time to time we do that with teams that we’re involved in. But it definitely is, is a goal of mine, when I can to be able to help those that are in need more than just motivation. There are a lot of people who need the basic stuff out here. And it’s definitely — it’s been on my mind a lot of late in terms of how I can help children and whoever needs that little help that I can give. So, I’m definitely wanting to be more active there. I don’t want to wait for the team to initiate. I want that to come from the goodness of my own heart. But first, of course, I need to be able to do that. So, I’m definitely looking to go towards that in the near future.
JESSE: [00:37:31] One of the things that — it happens a lot, especially with the, like bigger sports stars here in the US, is they’ll start foundations or non-profits and stuff to kind of support whatever cause that kind of touches their lives. And it always makes you wonder about is that the right way to approach it? Is there a wrong way to approach it? Maybe there’s a better way to go about it. But then like, along with that is, like, is there a responsibility for somebody like yourself to weigh in on social issues, whether it’s helping people or having an opinion on things. I know, I’ve seen kind of negative comments, not about you in particular.
But just if a — So, like, when I was talking to Mangi, he knows Tom Brady. And so the team we have here in Kansas City has kind of the next Tom Brady here, that’s what they’re calling him. And so he’ll talk about things and people love him, but at the same time, they’ll be like, stick to football. Like, that’s what you do, don’t weigh in on this. And I think I struggle with this too. I don’t know what the right thing is because as a professional, there’s a lot of eyes on you, right? I mean, people watch you bowl they — I’m sure you’ve got fans. And I just wonder, I guess, what are your thoughts on like, do you have a responsibility as somebody that has all these eyes watching you to be an example to give back? Or is it this is just my job and this is all I need to do?
LWANDISWA: [00:39:26] I think for me, if you’re doing it to impress then you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. For me, if you’re going to do it, it must come from a good place. It must come from — that’s why, I guess different strokes with different folks. But that’s why I’m not a fan of people who do it in front of cameras because it gives me the impression that it’s more for you and your brand than it is for the people that you’re trying to help. But hey, either way, whether it’s for the press and the brand, the people are still getting helped anyways. But I’m a true believer that I’m more than just a cricketer. I’m a human being.
And as a human being, I’ve got feelings, as a human being, I’ve got emotions, and as a human being, although I am a cricketer, I still allow to reach out and want to help in other facets where I can. So, as much as you’re a professional athlete, and you should be doing this, it does not take away the fact that you are a human being and you’ve got feelings, and you’ve got a heart. And there’s nothing wrong with reaching out and trying to help people who are not in the position to help themselves. You know, I just really hope that when we do it as people we’re doing it because it’s coming from the goodness of our hearts, and we’re not doing it to satisfy other agendas.
JESSE: [00:41:02] Yeah. I don’t know that this is a question so much as it made me think about, you know, you said doing things off camera. And I get it on the one hand like say a PR, like a video from time to time, like promoting your organization to try to raise funds to help. But it made me think about, you know, there’s these like, YouTube channels of people that are supposedly like, helping homeless people by giving them money and like, and making this like tear jerking video, and like, that’s the whole channel is them just like, almost like preying on homeless people by making these videos.
And then they make a ton of money from these videos, and it’s disingenuous, like, it’s just — Yes, I guess you’re kind of — you’re helping them, but it’s like, are you really doing it because you’re trying to help them? Or are you doing it because you want to make a lot of money and you’re like pulling people’s heartstrings? Like I said, it’s not really a question. It just made me think about that, and I kind of have a disdain for those kinds of channels, because it’s like, I just as you said, if you’re going to do it do you really need the credit attached to it like, is that your motivation?
LWANDISWA: [00:42:28] Yeah. But I guess there’s different reasons because maybe if Cristiano Ronaldo was to post on this page that is helping people, maybe 3 million other people are now going to help other people because he posted it. So, there’s also good too to posting that you’re doing it because you could influence other people to also do it. But for me as long as it’s coming from the goodness of your heart, for me, that’s all that matters. I know I said, I’m not a fan of things that happen on camera/off camera, but there are a lot of reasons.
I mean, if it happens on camera, it can also be a good thing because it can influence other people into doing it. It’s great. You know, so whether it’s on camera/off camera, I can say as long as it’s coming from the goodness of your heart. If it’s for the benefit of you, like you said, those YouTubers who are making millions because they take a 30-second video helping the homeless, I question your morals. Are you really doing it for them or what the case may be? So, as long as it’s coming from the goodness of your heart, I’m all for it.
JESSE: [00:43:33] Yeah. I think that’s the fine line. It’s hard to tell sometimes. Those two cases are a little easier to split, where you can say like if I saw you serving in a soup kitchen or something like there’s no cameras around, clearly you’re not there for the PR and then the other side with like, the Youtubers, and then there’s all the in between that’s like there’s no — the person knows because I don’t think that you can really know what’s in somebody else’s heart, but I think that’s a good test at least for yourself is to say where is the purpose of this coming from?
LWANDISWA: [00:44:17] And only you will know. Only you will know, I guess.
JESSE: [00:44:19] Right, right. So, before we run out of time, you probably heard me when I talked to Mangi, if you listened to his interview, I asked him this question. I’m asking everybody the same question this year. I think — it seems like I say this often because everybody goes through struggles, but you had such a big struggle that I think this fits well with you too. I’m asking everybody this year how do you stay motivated after failing to reach a goal?
LWANDISWA: [00:44:51] You know what? We spoke about the 19-month injury. I’m just going to have to give context to this so that you can understand what I’m saying. After many months of injury, I went back, I played cricket, I had a great season, and I signed a contract with the Dolphins again, right? Excited, my career is going up, everything is happening. And then before I played my first game, I injured my knee. Doctors told me I ruptured my PCL, and I had to do an operation; out six months. Our season is six months long so that was another season out. You can imagine now what I was going through. I’m like this, again, I’m going to go through this again, with a new team. I just signed a new contract, everything is looking good, and now I’m at rock bottom again. You know, this can’t be right, this can be life. That was like my thinking.
I went into depression that time, again, that time, back to old habits, alcohol, because for me, it was the only way, on which I look back now and was the wrong way. But at the time, it was the only way to find some sort of happiness. You forget about — it was like a temporary solution, you know. But again, I came back to my senses, and I started pushing, but in that experience, I learned something because we fail so much. I don’t know about other sports, but in cricket, last I checked, 70% of the time you fail.
You only succeed 30% of the time at what you do. That’s a lot of failing. And if you don’t come up with the right method to deal with failure, you’re going to have a problem, you’re going to have a real problem. A lot of cricketers, after retirement, you need to go see therapists because they’ve had to fight this thing of failure for 10 years, 11 years of their lives. So, if you don’t have a formula as to how to deal with it, there’s going to be a real problem.
And it had to take that experience for me, my knee injury, to realize or to come up with a formula that works for me in terms of how to deal with such failure, because it was the second time I deal with massive failure in a short period of time. I mean, the injuries were only one year apart. And this is what it came to, because I kept on working, but I was getting injured because I kept on getting this appointment, because I had this expectation in my mind that I should be fine by this particular time. And when that time came, and I wasn’t fine, it hit me hard. Then I told myself, no, keep working, you should be fine by this particular time. That time comes and you’re not okay, and then I hit rock bottom again.
And then I realized the lesson that life was trying to teach me. And this is the lesson it taught me is that it’s okay to keep trying. You have to keep trying. You have to keep having that attitude of wanting it now. But just couple that attitude with a mindset that understands that everything happens at its own time. As soon as I accepted that, I’ve dealt with failure so, so much better. Because I no longer have that expectation of I shouldn’t be here at this particular time. Or out of this game, I should get this many wickets or — I no longer have expectation. I just control what I can. I control my preparation, I control my attitude, and then I just control the controllables, really. And I let what — the things that I can’t control, control themselves.
That’s been my mechanism to deal with keeping myself motivated. I found it easier to stay motivated when you haven’t put a time period in your — or a timeframe in your mind. Because what if you’re motivating yourself and you’re saying, I’m going to motivate myself so that by the 20th of July, I go to this particular tournament. Then the 20th of July strikes and you’re not chosen, then what? Then you hit rock bottom, and it’s tough to motivate yourself again, after hitting rock bottom. So, I rather go with the mentality of I’m going to give my all and I’m just going to let the universe deliver at its own timing.
JESSE: [00:49:13] I talk about this with different people sometimes, but I definitely had a hard time when I was younger with that timeline, especially when you get injured and you’re like, all right, like this is the day. Or even when you’re not injured, you know, in my case, I’m like, this is the time I want to run and I’m going to do it at this race or by — [crosstalk] And then it doesn’t happen and you’re like, it’s a letdown, but then you got to keep going forward. And I’ve gotten to this place now where people ask, it’s like I run a couple of businesses, so sometimes people will ask me like, oh, what are your business goals and like blah, blah. I’m just like, I don’t know. I just keep doing what I do and make it — I’ll get there when I get there. Like, there’s so much extra stress involved with being like it has to happen by this date.
And I think for people like us, we don’t need the extra motivation. I think people that have no motivation, having a date helps you get off the couch and get started. But like when you’ve already got that fire raging inside you, then it’s just, it starts burning you up instead of moving you forward. So, I definitely got to agree with you on that. It’s like it’s such a big lesson to internalize to like, like you said, let go, trust that the universe will deliver when it’s going to, if it’s going to, and just do your thing.
LWANDISWA: [00:50:39] Absolutely. Absolutely.
JESSE: [00:50:42] Lwandiswa, where can people find you; the Instagrams, Twitter, any of that kind of stuff; where can people check out what you’re doing? And then hopefully, with the upcoming season, how things are going with Northwest?
LWANDISWA: [00:50:56] Yeah. People can find me on Instagram. I’m Lwandi57. That is my personal page where you can see my personal stuff that I do. And my motivation page is Lwandi57_realtalk, where I share the things that I’ve been through. On Facebook it’s Lwandiswa Zuma. That’s where you’ll find me, Lwandiswa Zuma on Facebook. In terms of Northwest, really excited, really excited for the season. It’s my biggest move so far, you know.
So, hopefully, COVID doesn’t stand in the way because I’m really really excited for what’s ahead. It’s a new structure, South African cricket, so we’re all going into like a new thing, so the excitement is in the air, you know. And hey, man, I’m just going to have to keep doing what I’ve been doing. And yeah, I look forward to the experience. I look forward to impacting this environment in a positive way and leaving my mark as Lwandiswa Zuma, in the Northwest.
JESSE: [00:51:55] Awesome, man. Thanks for hanging out with me today.
LWANDISWA: [00:51:58] Thank you so much for having me, I really appreciate it. It’s been a pleasure.