Those who follow us on social media would be familiar with the name Myan Subrayan, a name I often mention in regards to helping the Springboks and Bulls with their mental coaching.
Interesting I came to know of Myan when I saw a tweet doing the rounds which intrigued me and then I decided to make contact with him and the rest is history.
The big thing that got my attention about Myan was his journey with the Emirates Lions when he was their life coach from 2013 to 2015, where he helped establish their team values, culture and motivated them through their tough time when they were relegated out of Super Rugby.
Since then he has assisted with the Warriors and Dolphins cricket teams, Amazulu and Amatuks football teams, the Shimlas in Bloemfontein and various other school teams.
What I appreciate about Myan is that his skill set is not reserved to one sport alone.
The truly amazing thing about his journey is that he grew up disliking rugby and Afrikaans, which changed when he immigrated to New Zealand in 2000.
There he became friends with All Black legends Inga Tuigamala, Eroni Clarke, Bull Allen and Michael Jones and wrote the autobiography for Tuigamala in 2009 – Inga My Story. His love for the game grew exponentially, largely due to his friendships with the All Blacks.
In 2012, he moved back to South Africa and at the end of that year after speaking at Coach Johan Ackermann’s church in November 2012, Ackermann approached him and asked if he would be willing to help him and motivate the then relegated Lions team. He explained that the mental space of the team and the union as a whole was really down and added to this he was in a new position as the head coach, so he also needed motivation and guidance.
Financially things were dire as well as the Lions had lost a number of sponsors and would not be able to get much from match attendance as they were out of Super Rugby.
Myan started in January 2013 to set about cultivating the Lions new culture, by developing their mission, vision and values that forged their goals for that 2013 season and beyond. His aim was to get them off dwelling on the negative and focus on what needed to be done. Become the winning force they had always been in South African rugby.
He introduced a theme to the Lions called PRIDE – (Personal Responsibility In Delivering Excellence). PRIDE became an important part of the Lions culture and was plastered all over the players change room (where it still remains) and even embroidered onto their 2014 Currie Cup Final jerseys. The players and Coach Ackermann had attested to the great work he had done in keeping the players mentally focused despite the tough times they endured.
In October 2013 Coach Johan Ackermann send Myan this email:
“I asked Myan to be the facilitator to establish our Mission Statement and Vision for 2013. He did it with passion and fun. I also asked him to lay a spiritual foundation, which he did right through his sessions. He was practical as his life story related to where the Lions where and I believe the players could relate to him and needed that faith in God. I met Myan when he shared his testimony and felt that he knew what it felt to be in the pit and also that he can share about his faith in Jesus and lay that base with a group that has to rely on God without knowing where their future will go. I believe that each individual could have taken something out of Myan’s sessions to lift him up spiritually and emotionally. If that person was down or had any doubt in his situation, he could take courage out of what Myan said about God, things like: God can use the bad experiences for your Good, ABC – to achieve , we have to believe, to conceive, From our rejection comes our resurrection and to trust in God in all situations like Gideon. With God nothing is impossible. Because Myan has overcome his own challenges, bad times and also been disappointment by fellow humans, he has the gift to share the Word of God, with passion and to stay positive and live and trust in God and His power. He has seen the power of God in his life, and encourages and builds our faith in God that with Jesus, we can overcome and we can be restored” – Johan Ackermann, former Head Coach Emirates Lions
“As the captain of the team, my job was to keep the guys positive, which was not an easy task, as they were down. One Monday, Coach Ackers called us in and said there was a guy coming to talk to the team. My first reaction was, here we go again as back then everybody had something to say! That’s when I met Myan Subrayan. But his motivation played a big part in helping us get back into Super Rugby. He helped get a team that was down and out into believing that they can become the best again. Meeting Myan, an Indian passionate about rugby, was certainly not a co-incidence. I learnt that things in life happen for a reason. Through his sessions, I became a better leader and the team started to believe in our goal to get back into Super 15 for 2014. Thanks Myan for the great work you did. I’ve learned many things from you that I’ll take with me for the rest of my life!” – JC Janse Van Rensburg, Lions Captain 2013
I recently met up with Myan as we often do and asked him a few questions that could possibly help people understand why I believe in this man’s abilities to assist the Boks and or Bulls.
- Having been in NZ and worked with some of the players and teams there, how does SA stack up in terms of mental preparation? I arrived back in SA in 2012 and it disappoints me that we are so far behind the rest of the world when it comes to this area. It’s not just rugby but across all sports. Having worked with some of our overseas based players this is something we talk about as a key reason why we are not at the top of the world in most sports. Whether its rugby, athletics, soccer or hockey or any sport.
- You watched the game at Loftus Versfeld between the Springboks and All Blacks, why do you think the Boks “let it slip”? We should have won the game long before the bench came on, and to me it was our mental edge that was lacking. This to me was the difference between the two teams. The ABs came back from 17 points down and that shows a lot of mental fortitude. We made some basic errors that could have been avoided if we were mentally a bit sharper. I think the Boks were looking too far ahead, and counting their chickens before they hatched. Something they should have known you never do against quality opposition like the Abs.
- If you could work with the Springboks what would you do that could possibly give them the edge? I would obviously start with working on their mental strength and on developing and strengthening the team culture and values. It’s crucial that in any team environment, be it sports or business, you want the team to work towards shared values and goals. This was where the strength for the Lions was. When I started with them we spent a lot of time on developing this.
- What is it that you offer a team or individual that is different from the normal team/sports psychologists? Myan shared these quotes from his days with the Lions…
“Myan had a significant impact on players and staff at the Lions. His zest for life and positive nature, combined with an unwavering faith inspires us to become better players and people.” – Warren Whiteley, Emirates Lions Captain
“What stood out for me with Myan’s sessions was firstly that there is always hope and that your attitude determines your altitude! The mission and vision statements we did always gave us something to return to, to measure ourselves and see where we were and where we wanted to be. And that we must remember that bad things happen to good people too. From our biggest rejections comes, our greatest resurrections. Thanks a lot for all you did for the Lions and for me personally. And thanks for the person you are” – CJ van der Linde, former Springbok prop
- Who have you worked with that you feel you had the biggest impact on in their career? It’s difficult to single out anyone in particular, but it was great to be acknowledged by All Black, Charles Piutau having read my books From the Pit to the Palace and Seed or Greed?
Online articles with Piutau:
As a team and from the feedback of the players, the Lions team of 2013 are at the top of my list. In the non-professional area there’s also Waterkloof High Boys Hockey who beat Affies in Pretoria for the first time and the Blue Bulls U14 who last year were champs and this year were also U15 champions.
Myan has been travelling the world and appeared on many television programmes and I believe that his work in South Africa is not yet done. I truly hope the right people in the right places get to hear your story and see your work firsthand Myan.
For more information about Myan and his work, books and booking him as a guest speaker, visit www.myansubrayan.co.za. You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter.