AB de Villiers: From A to B

AB as a Brand Ambassador
An all-rounder on and off the cricket field, AB de Villers has become an international cricket star and an inspiration to many. “I loved spending time in the S3. It’s a very classy, but moveable vehicle. The best thing about the S3 is the safe feel it gives its driver. Always in control! The S3 and TT are both very classy vehicles, that’s something that automatically comes with the great brand of Audi and Vorsprung durch Tecknik!!

“The TT is a very special car!! There’s nothing better than spending time in this wonderful vehicle. It’s really extremely solid on the road. I’ve gotta mention that it’s the most attractive car I’ve been in. I’m still pretty young and I enjoy the fresh, attractive vibe of this car,” says AB.

“It’s truly amazing being associated with such a powerful brand. I’ve always loved Audi’s vehicles, and will always. It’s pretty tough keeping up with the high standards of Audi on the cricket field, but it’s definitely good motivation for me to keep performing. I’ll do anything to stay connected with this brand. It’s a great honour and privilege for me!” The partnership began with AB de Villiers in 2008 with an Audi S3 and has now continued with AB taking delivery of an Audi TT in April this year.

Now Let’s Find Out More About AB Himself
The Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool in Pretoria is buzzing. Learners are crowding, waving, taking pictures with their cellphones, ignoring the bell that signals the start of another period.

AB de Villiers, one of this school’s most celebrated sons, has come to visit. “AB is a legend. And to think he is from our school! He is one of the best cricket players in the world,” says Eduan Bosman (14). “He is my hero—for sure! We are very proud of him,” adds Bennie van der Merwe (15). Just like Eduan and Bennie, AB donned the Affies’ blazer and walked this school’s corridors. And like many pupils he also stayed in the Affies’ residence.

A younger AB often passed the school’s honours board, listing the names of former learners turned national sporting heroes, and wondered: ‘could that be me?’ This question was answered four years ago when he became a member of the Protea squad. Only 20 at the time, AB was immediately recognised for his versatility and determination. He has excelled as a top order batsman, fielder and wicket keeper, and has proven his abilities in diverse conditions by scoring centuries in India, England and Australia. Moreover, AB made a major contribution to the Proteas’ historic ODI series win against Australia. His fielding has taken on legendary proportions as South Africa’s best in this position since Jonty Rhodes. He has also nailed down the number four batting position. Affies may have played an important role in his rise to the top, but his talent was discovered much earlier.

AB started playing cricket with his two older brothers when he was just four years old. Although Jan and Wessels mostly demoted him to ‘field worker’ and ‘water boy’, they quickly realised that AB was a force to be reckoned with. “Saturday games at our house in Bela Bela were very competitive. My brothers were merciless. They were monsters. There were always a lot of tears—usually mine,” he laughs.

AB fell in love with this game despite his tears. “I was eight years old when I saw Jonty’s world famous run out against Australia in the 1992 World Cup. It really made an impression on me. I remember thinking: this is a cool game! I started dreaming of following in Jonty’s footsteps,” he says. Recognising their son’s cricketing aptitude, AB’s parents decided to send their talented son to Affies. “At that stage I participated in various sports and wasn’t sure what I wanted to focus on. However, when I made the South African Colt team at 16, I realised cricket was something I could pursue professionally. I started working harder. I wanted to be the best in my age group.” While playing for the South African Schools Eleven, he was spotted by the Titans’ coach Dave Nosworthy. Dave gave him a chance to play for this team against Canada in a 2003 World Cup warm-up game. “It was the first time that I played a televised game. I was very nervous, but I thrive under pressure, especially if people are watching. Life is all about grabbing opportunities. I grabbed the opportunity with both hands,” he says. AB scored 100 in this game, securing his place in the Titans team. It wasn’t long before he got a call from the national team and South Africa started taking notice of this resourceful player.

He made his début for the Proteas in the first test against England in Port Elizabeth in 2004, and has been part of the national side ever since. In fact, he played his 50th consecutive test against Australia at Johannesburg’s Wanderers Stadium in February this year. “Making cricket my career and playing for the national squad are dreams come true. We have been in a learning phase for the past few years—and it has paid off. It’s all about consistency. In the past we may have been guilty of not playing a consistent game. But we have returned to the basics, we know and understand each other and we have worked consistently towards the same goals. We have also stuck to the same ‘brave’ brand of cricket. “Personally, I have grown as a player in the past two years. I have found my feet on the field. Performing consistently has also been a personal highlight for me and it remains my number one goal,” says AB. However, he emphasises that his life isn’t just focused on cricket. Off the field, AB loves spending time with his family and friends. He also plays golf (off a five handicap), tennis and the guitar.

AB and a friend, Ampie du Preez released the motivational song ‘Show them who you are’ at the end of last year. This song became the anthem of the Proteas’ rise to victory against Australia. By the end of 2009, AB and Ampie are hoping to release their first CD. “It has always been my dream to make and record music. And we’re not merely dabbling in it—we’ve decided that our CD can’t be anything but great,” says AB who also took piano lessons and sang in the school choir in primary school.

In addition, he is a partner in his brothers’ fast food businesses. They will soon start a catering business together. This move is part of his long-term after-cricket strategy. AB is also passionate about his involvement in Francois Pienaar’s Make a Difference Foundation. This organization gives underprivileged children the opportunity to attend the country’s best schools. “I am a devout Christian and would like to pursue a goal in this regard one day. I’d like start an initiative through which I can touch people’s lives and make the world a better place in whatever way I can.

At this stage, it is still just a dream, but I see it as the measure of true success. I can’t just live for myself.” When talking to AB you get the feeling that it is only a matter of time before this dream also becomes a reality. Realising goals is all about self belief and hard work, he says. “Success is 99% self belief. You have to be confident in your abilities. And hard work comes naturally if you have a passion for something.”

Source: MotorPics.co.za – September 8, 2009 / AUDI SOUTH AFRICA

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