Liam Blignaut’s competitive streak is offset by the impact of contributing to something bigger than the self…
It was football – and his mother – that shaped Liam Blignaut’s resilience and inspired him to never back down from what it takes to win.
Born and raised in Grassy Park, Cape Town, Liam and his older brother were raised by their single mother, a business owner who ran her own crèche and day-care centre. He was inspired by his mother’s dedication to what was important to her. “She was up every morning at 4am, taking everything in her stride and getting on with what she needed to do to take care of her family and her business,” he says.
“My mom continues to inspire me. The main reason she started the crèche was because she was a single mom with no one to look after her children,” he says. “From there it grew… She now has about 70 children and is in the process of transforming her crèche to the Waldorf method.”
Liam attended Grassdale High School in Grassy Park. It was Miss October, his maths teacher in Grade 8 and 9, who inspired, motivated and developed his desire to excel, he says. “She pushed me to study harder in maths, and because of her I applied that effort to all my subjects. She instilled the belief in me that I could achieve a lot more than I was currently doing,” he says.
He describes himself as “extremely competitive”. He remembers this starting in Grade 8 when one of his closest friends began getting better grades than him. “I wasn’t going to allow that to happen again, so I started working harder to beat her, which I then did,” he says. His competitive streak spurred him on to win many awards for academics throughout his school and university career. “I’m not one to brag, but I owned most of the awards,” he adds.
Liam graduated in 2017 with a B.Com in Information Systems from UCT. “I chose this degree because of the countless opportunities that it would create for me in the technologically advanced world that we are now living in, and because problem solving is what I am good at and which now plays a huge role for me in the working world,” he says.
He started work as a junior software developer with Digital Outsource Services at the beginning of 2018. His job is his “utmost priority” at the moment, as he is focused on becoming an intermediate software developer by the end of the year.
He enjoys the financial independence that comes with the job and the ability to take care of his financial obligations and those of others, if need be. Liam describes himself as solutions-oriented and loves the stimulation of the project he’s currently working on in the data-mining field, specifically the problem solving.
Aligning with the Moshal values of giving back, Liam also runs Saturday maths tutorials for local high school students from disadvantaged backgrounds. “I feel maths is very helpful to build problem-solving skills, so the better the students do at maths in high school, the better chance they’ll have of getting into university, for any field of study,” he says.
Liam finds his tutoring work rewarding and enjoys being able to help students to achieve their academic goals. “I always ask my students, before we start, what their goals are. And then I make them aim even higher because I know that they can do better than they believe they can,” he says.
Liam is keen to further his studies and considering studying part-time next year towards a post-grad qualification in Information Security. In the long-term, he has his sights set on opening his own IT business.
“It has always been my goal to have my own business. It’s something I have set for myself in the future, but right now I want to further my qualifications and gain more work experience,” he says.
Liam admits to being “crazy about football” as both a player and spectator. It’s his dream to travel overseas to watch a Champions League game. “I got the football bug and started playing when I was 10. It was a way to escape from the gangsterism and problems in the neighbourhood. It was a better way to spend my time,” he says.
Liam says football helped him to build resilience. “I’m a stubborn person and football inspired me to never back down and to keep doing what it takes to win,” he says. “Being part of a team, contributing to something bigger than yourself has also had a big impact on me. Teamwork makes the dream work,” he adds.
He will always be grateful for being accepted into the Moshal Scholarship Program and what it has given him. “Knowing that you can study at the best university in Africa and have the best scholarship in South Africa back you, well, it was just the icing, sprinkles and Nutella spread on the triple chocolate cake.”