Budding professional rugby player, Marius Botha, was devastated when he sustained a knee injury and the repercussions kept him off the rugby field for nearly two years, but now he feels blessed with his life. He's back on the rugby field, and also used the opportunity to start his own building and carpentry business.
The 25 year old has lived on the Gold Coast of Queensland for about 10 years, moving from Cape Town with his family in Grade 10.
Having completed a carpentry apprenticeship after finishing school, Marius' rugby career had started to blossom. In 2008 he had been selected for the Queensland Reds development squad and invited to trial for the Australian sevens team. His dream was to play for his country (now Australia) and performance-wise he was peaking.
But then he faced knee reconstruction, which could have been a relatively simple operation, but a subsequent staph infection saw him being rushed to hospital and having the bolts removed. He was in hospital on antibiotics for about four weeks, and then at home on a drip for a further six weeks as a result of the severe infection, which doctors said would have resulted in an older person losing a limb or dying.
At that stage he was working as a contractor and had no income protection. He faced an extended amount of time off work – needing to go back for a repeat of the original operation six months after the first.
It was a really difficult time, says Marius. “It was almost more mental than physical. I had to be off work, plus being able to play no rugby at a time when I was so close to signing a good deal with the Reds,” he says.
But Marius had always been a positive person and he started to look for opportunities. “It was a really good time for me to look back and see where I was going and what I wanted to do in life. I turned to religion and God again, which really helped me to get through everything.”
Marius says that the rugby team he played for – South Brisbane – and his church were really supportive during this time, but he decided that although he couldn't do any physical work as a result of the leg brace and drip, there was no point in just sitting at home.
So he went back to school full time, enrolling to do a building course that enabled him to obtain his Housing Industry Association building licence. Through this he managed to achieve his ambition of starting his own company, Mpire Homes, which is on the Gold Coast. “I didn't let things get the better of me. Instead I built my own empire.”
Apart from having his own company, which specialises in renovations, decks and pergolas, Marius is also now back playing rugby. It's hard work, but he's happy to put in the effort.
“I'm stoked to be back on the field, and hopefully I can still play for a Super 14 side or for my country. It has always been my aim to play for my country, and as that is now Australia I would love to play for the Wallabies. It'll take a lot of hard work, but I believe in myself.”