Bl­itzbok coach Neil Pow­ell tells us where his ex­cit­ing job has taken him, plus where he hangs out in Cape Town

Getaway (South Africa) - - Contents -

You have friends com­ing to Cape Town. Where would you rec­om­mend they stay? In your trav­els, what place has re­ally stood out? And your favourite city?

The day I set foot in Rome, I knew I wanted to take my wife there (which I later did). It has an amaz­ing at­mos­phere and it’s a pretty city. There is some­thing about the his­tory – the Colos­seum, the Vat­i­can City – that feels like you’re re­liv­ing the past. The South­ern Sun Water­front. The great thing about it is the friendly staff – they re­ally go the ex­tra mile to make it as com­fort­able as pos­si­ble. Also, it’s close to most of the city’s tourist attractions – Ta­ble Moun­tain, the Water­front and the beach. It’s in the per­fect spot. There is some­thing about Dubai that’s vastly dif­fer­ent to what I’m used to. It’s the desert, the dif­fer­ent cul­ture, and also how they fo­cus on en­ter­tain­ment to keep peo­ple busy. Usu­ally when you think of a desert, you think of how there’s noth­ing to do.

What is your travel phi­los­o­phy?

Get out of the ho­tel and see what’s out there. It’s good to take time, even a half day on a work trip, to ex­plore a city. What’s key for me is to do a bit of home­work so you don’t waste time, plus you want to un­der­stand, for ex­am­ple, what the Colos­seum is about or what the Vat­i­can City sym­bol­ises.

Your fond­est child­hood travel mem­ory?

Holidays in Swakop­mund, Namibia – the whole ex­tended fam­ily went camp­ing. We en­joyed fish­ing and spend­ing time with each other, es­pe­cially be­cause we didn’t see each other of­ten. I was 10 years old and that hol­i­day still stands out for me. We still camp and go game fish­ing ev­ery other De­cem­ber in Cape Vi­dal with my in-laws. I wish I could take my boys camp­ing a lot more.

What in­spires you?

What mo­ti­vates me ev­ery day are the young men I am work­ing with. It’s not just the op­por­tu­nity to make them bet­ter play­ers but also a chance to in­stil val­ues in them.

You’re a for­mer Bl­itzbok cap­tain. What wis­dom can you pass on to the team now?

It’s a spe­cial time for them to be able to tour the world and get paid for it! I al­ways tell them to grab the op­por­tu­nity and go sight­see­ing. Time goes very fast and be­fore they realise, their Sevens ca­reer will be over and they would have missed the chance to get to know cities such as Syd­ney, Hong Kong and Dubai.

What are you look­ing for­ward to this Sevens Rugby sea­son?

We need to take that ex­tra step to get to the num­ber-one spot. We’ve been sec­ond three times in a row now. There’s still a bit of prestige about win­ning the over­all Sevens series in 2008/9, as we had never done it be­fore. That was the start of the Boks Sevens chang­ing into a more pro­fes­sional setup. We’ve never won in Hong Kong, so the goal will be to win that pres­ti­gious tour­na­ment for the first time – and be num­ber one at the end of the World Series.

Do you and your fam­ily get to travel much?

I’m away from home of­ten, so af­ter com­ing back from a tour­na­ment I take my fam­ily away for two days. It’s im­por­tant to have them around me – they make life spe­cial. I just spend time with them, no meet­ings, no phone calls, and give them my full at­ten­tion. We like to try a dif­fer­ent place ev­ery time, so we’ve been to KolKol near Bot River, to the Hemel-en-Aarde Val­ley and Her­manus, up to Lange­baan and Veld­drif, to Robert­son and Mon­tagu. We love the West­ern Cape be­cause it’s so di­verse. We also en­joy go­ing to Mos­sel Bay out of sea­son.

What’s next on your travel bucket list?

My wife has a thing for Switzer­land – the snow, the log cab­ins and be­ing some­where in the moun­tains.

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