The sports fields on the campus in Mahikeng couldn’t be in better hands. Itumeleng “Spina” Leping believes that the sports grounds should mirror the splendour of the university.

Keeping our sports grounds in tip-top shape

“Gert Venter, the manager I had at the time, said ‘you can build a career from this’,” remembers Spina, as he is affectionately known. His nickname comes from his days as a soccer player and his talent for spinning the ball.


His heart is in horticulture


Fast forward to today and Spina is the custodian of the sports grounds in Mahikeng.


Spina says he always knew his heart was in horticulture. “At the NWU we have kikuyu grass, but I remember in Standard 7 (now Grade 9), my father had evergreen grass. Also called shadow over, this type of gras required constant shade.


“We had the kind of family garden everyone in our community wanted,” he recalls of his humble beginnings in Potchefstroom.


After attending courses in landscaping, chemical usage and flowering, among others, Spina came to understand and appreciate the intricacies involved in horticulture. Essential for a groundsman were finer details such as keeping weeds out of the pitch without damaging the grass.


Teams can be assured of many great pitches for years to come as Spina is firmly rooted at the university.


He is also a passionate soccer fan and hasn’t missed a single NWU Varsity Football game since the tournament’s inauguration in 2013.


That the home team did not make the finals of the 2018 tournament upset Spina immensely. “They should win here. It is their home ground.”


Only the best


Spina believes that the NWU’s sports fields should receive priority attention. “They should reflect the beauty of this university and be world class.”


It’s still early days, but Spina says it appears his two-year-old son displays the same traits as his father – a deep love for soccer and for working with his hands.


It’s almost five o’clock and Spina’s knocking off. Bright and early tomorrow, he’ll be back to ensure the university has sports grounds to be proud of.



When Itumeleng “Spina” Leping stepped onto an NWU sports pitch on 12 October 2009, he knew he was going to love his job.