Jean Verster’s enthusiasm is contagious. World champions can attest to this – just ask Caster Semenya and many others.
This former and exceptional middle-distance athlete was one of SA Athletics’ great trump cards in the early eighties. During that period he also stretched his legs in the USA, but since a decade and a half ago he has been at the wheel of the High Performance Institute (HPI) on the Potchefstroom Campus of the North-West University.
His achievements as athlete and coach are legion, but he also leaves his mark constantly through his office as manager.
The HPI is known worldwide for its outstanding facilities, excellent coaches and specialists in various types of sport, its beautiful location, attractive altitude, and its status because of the champions that have been produced there.
More than 1 000 international athletes visit the HPI every year, and even in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic roughly 700 international athletes visited the HPI in 2020.
“One of our biggest drawing cards is that our (South Africa’s) summer falls during the European winter. There are naturally other places in our country like Pretoria and Stellenbosch, and African countries like Kenya and Ethiopia, that also have sports facilities, but our offer is unique.0} We are at a much higher altitude than Stellenbosch and, in contrast with the rest, our facilities are within walking distance from each other, and visitors enjoy the student culture of the city,” says Verster.
In addition, the NWU also has a close collaboration partnership with local amateur sports federations. That is why the HPI remains the sports home of choice to many local and international unions and codes. Athletes from more than 40 countries have so far come to stretch their muscles at the HPI’s facilities, including teams from the Australian Football Union (AFI), the English county cricket teams, and athletes from across South America, Europe and Asia.
And, although the Covid-19 pandemic still has its claws in every type of sport, at the end of 2021 the NWU will host the Hockey World Cup at the HPI, amongst others, in Potchefstroom too.