Westerford High School Grade 12 pupil Laylaa Davids is a rising star in South African hockey.
Laylaa, 17, comes from a close-knit family and credits her parents for her success.
Her father, Waleed, in turn, praises his daughter for excelling academically and on the sports field to earn a spot at Westerford. Davids says his daughter excelled academically, culturally, and on the sports field, which earned her a slot at Westerford.
Davids says since Grade 8, Laylaa has received an average above 80% for her subjects up until Grade 11 last year, and on the sports field, she has excelled for the first hockey team, for Central Hockey Club, and for the provincial and national hockey teams.
Laylaa’s hockey career took off after she joined Athlone-based outfit at the tender age of eight. The midfielder has been among the top performers for Central Hockey Club, which won a promotion to the Grand Challenge, the top hockey league format in the city, two years ago.
At Portavue Primary School in Athlone, she was well-known for her love for sport, her books and respect for other people, which is one of the reasons she was selected to be the deputy-head girl in 2014.
She has been a part of the provincial under-13A side (2014), zonal provincial under-14 team (2015), provincial under-16 (2016 and 2017), and provincial under-18 (2018).
She was also a part of the Seals under-14 (2014), Sharks under-16 (2015), Seals under-16 (2016 and 2017) and Seals under-18 (2018). Seals is the Western Province team, and All Star is the SA team. Sharks is the provincial indoor team.
Nationally, she made the under-16B side (2016), SA high performance squad under-16 (2017), SA under-18B (2018), SA High Performance squad under-18 (2018, indoor All Star team under-16 (2016 and 2017), indoor All Star team under-18 last year as well as receiving the midfielder of the tournament at the 2017 Inter-Provincial Hockey tournament.
Her father says she has been consistent and focused, just like her two siblings. Her older brother, Ebrahiem, is a part of the rugby academy at North West University after also captaining Westerford High School and playing for the Leopards under-21 rugby side.
Her younger sister, Imaan, 11, is also a hockey player for Central, a swimmer and a chess player. Laylaa says she and her siblings owe their achievements to their parents, Waleed and Zulfah Davids.
“I think they played a huge role in our achievements. And for my brother, I mean him being the oldest, he sets the tone and we look up to him. “I have seen families that suffer from jealousy towards each other, but what I love about my family is that when one of us achieves something we are all happy for each other and if we need a shoulder to cry on we can count on each other,” she says.
Laylaa says her achievements of 79% to 80% since Grade 8 started to shift a bit last year when she had a shaky start to Grade 11, however, she saw that she had to manage her books first and then take care of her hockey.
“Westerford is not so sporty and our hockey team is not the biggest but we make sure we are focused on our books. It was quite tough because there was a lot of pressure at the beginning of the year, but I was able to manage my books and my hockey. This year, I hope to make the SA girls’ under-18 team and get an average of 80% or more for my matric,” she says.
Laylaa says youngsters her age have the capability to work hard and to never give up as they can achieve anything they put their minds to.