Online option no barrier for Woodridge Connect squash player

Jun 22, 2022 | Latest News

By becoming the first pupil from the Woodridge Connect school to win provincial colours, Matthew Muller has shown there is no barrier to sporting achievements for online pupils.

The 14-year-old Grade 8 scholar was recently named in the Eastern Province U14 squash team to compete in the annual age-group interprovincial, which takes place in Potchefstroom from June 25 to 28.

Muller said it was an honour for him to be included in the U14 squad.

He is a pupil at Woodridge Connect, an online educational platform which is linked to Woodridge College situated in Thornhill, but which creates a separate opportunity for their curriculum to be accessed from home.

Woodridge Connect CEO, Kristine Tudhope, explained the overall approach they took to ensuring their pupils received a high-quality education.

“At Woodridge Connect we offer an opportunity for learners to excel academically, while preparing them for life beyond the classroom,” she said.

“We offer a blended learning approach, which means that learners work through some lessons on their own, and others are live-facilitated tutorials, allowing them to focus on the areas where they are struggling, while working at their own pace in a structured environment.

“At the same time, we believe in the value of extra-curricular activities and encourage learners to socialise through our Sport Hangouts and other clubs that we offer.”

Muller suffered from a particular medical condition and when he and his family realised the challenges he would face in attending a traditional school they began searching for online options.

This led them to Woodridge Connect where he has become accustomed to the requirements of online education.

“At first the concept was quite hard since it was a drastic change, but I figured out that you had to be extremely disciplined to work in an online school and I am now doing well.”

Muller got into squash when his cousin Luke persuaded him to go with him to a squash club.

“At first I didn’t want to go but after I watched him play I saw how cool and sleek he looked on the court,” he said.

“Since he is my older cousin I wanted to be like him and his sister, Ella, thought the same, so we found some rackets and went to a club to play.

“In the beginning we could hardly even warm up the ball, but now we have progressed and I put all my time into it.”

The trio of Mullers have all been selected for EP teams to compete in the forthcoming interprovincials.

Muller doesn’t attend training sessions at Woodridge, but is coached by Ed Razzano and said he also regularly practised with Luke, both of whom he said had played significant roles in his squash development.

Tudhope said they were delighted with the recognition Muller had received for his squash.

“It means a great deal to Woodridge Connect because it demonstrates that a young person does not necessarily have to be in a traditional brick and mortar school to achieve sporting-wise,” she said.

“It is also encouraging to see that opting for online learning gives the flexibility required in order to excel outside the classroom as well, in whichever area of interest the learner displays.

“Woodridge Connect is extremely committed to ensuring its pupils are not compromised and will go beyond the call of duty to ensure they can participate in all extra-murals.

“To date we have received full co-operation from the sporting authorities to recognise Woodridge Connect as a bona fide educational institution.”

“We are extremely proud of Matthew and we look forward to watching him further excel on the sport field, as well as in the classroom. He is an inspiration to our other learners and embodies what Woodridge Connect stands for.”

Written by Neale Emslie

Posted in The Herald on 21 June 2022.