Education Leadership


The Story…It happened!

Team Insomniacs makes history!

Never underestimate the children and their passion to succeed. We as adults kill that passion because we have fears that we transmit to them and our fears become their greatest obstacles to success. In 2017 there were these boys in Grade 9 who were truly volitional in their decision to participate in the 4X4 Sangri Landrover Challenge which changed the ‘journey’ of their lives forever. JOURNEY, was the name of their vehicle which landed them a wonderful prize. However, let me get you behind the wheel and onto the road that parted into two and they took, the one less travelled. The road of grit is one scarcely taken. In 2017 I attended a conference on the future of education in Sandton and it was a really good conference with very enlightening papers that got me thinking deeply on education. It looked rather odd therefore, to find an exhibit that featured an off road miniature car as part of education for the future. Instantly it grabbed my attention and off I went talking to the exhibitor and the road to the challenge began. The gentleman, Pieter du Plessis is this energetic person with great passion for fitness and when we got talking somehow we landed up talking about cycling and that gave our conversation a new edge of interest. He said that it was now that pupils should be introduced to the F1 and the Landrover 4X4 Sangri Challenge because it is on the cutting edge of introducing robotics and artificial intelligence into schools through creative projects of car design. This sparked great interest and in late November of 2017 there was team read that Pieter gave the first course to.It was a full week of work and design that spurred interest in the team that cannot be measured. The boys named their team, TEAM INSOMNIACS. Really, they did lose many nights of sleep over this project that began in 2017 an ended in climax in 2019. The story is long but let me list the team for you. Suliman Chamda, the  aspirant team leader and genius too in maths and science. Abdul Sattar Cassim, the flamboyant marketing and Finance manager who speaks five languages and the life line of the team. Abbas Thomas, out IT specialist and computer man. Azhar Khan our manufacturing engineer. 

This is their story:

The exhibition station. Team Insomniacs nesting awake amongst nations with a great history in auto-motive design and engineering.


Teams from across the world gather.

Insomnia is a condition you don’t want because it makes you aware of the sound sleeping of those around you however, when you wake up and then cannot sleep because of bright idea, know that you are an INSOMNIAC.

The name of our team is unique because the SANGARI 4X4 Challenge attracted our interest from the very moment we were introduced to it. It was the concept of design, scientific thought, proof of concept, business sense and action research that inspired us to participate. Therefore, the challenge to compete with schools that were well advanced in the competition for years on meant that we had to shake off our inferiority complex, bite the bullet and let the proof of our work be when the ‘rubber hits the road’. This became our mantra. The 4X4 Challenge should inspire us to ideas that would wake us up from the slumber of inaction.

We are from Roshnee Islamic School in the Vaal area. Our team: Suliman Chamda, Abdool Sattar Cassim, Abbas Thomas and Azhar Khan had to connect as a group on a common brainwave because the technical aspects demanded that. We cannot forget our team member, Mohammed Kaka, who did sterling work in marketing and in the proof of concept of our first body design. Our fears were heightened when we saw all the history on the 4×4 website and realised that we were the underdog team and therefore, we needed to become self-motivated, self-reliant and intrinsically scientifically inspired by the world of mechanics.

This inspiration led us to make our first body with fibreglass. It was exciting and it gave us the edge on what really goes on in concept designing an actual car. WOW! School does not prepare you for this. We then met with local mechanics, car enthusiasts, owners of huge car sales and engineers. For us it was a great learning stride because it was not an ordinary assignment that we do at schools nor was it driven by marks for a test. It was based on the passion to learn and to invent.

The day came for the first competition and we cannot count the number of times we put our vehicle through its paces. We changed our original body to a plastic one which we painted yellow – it suited our team name more than anything else. One must understand how we felt when we entered the SCI BONO centre to participate because we really looked the odd one out and stood out like a sore thumb but we were inspired. Yes, inspired by Mr Pieter, our Principal, Mr A Sujee and our cool calm and collected teacher, Mr. C. J. Kruger. 

To get to the point of the hour one must know that when you have insomnia, time seems to slow down and things go on in your head that is inexplicable. That’s how we felt when the competition began because our 4X4 just would not work. Once we sorted that out the competition began. We felt that we would not make it even to first base. Suddenly…

Yes, suddenly there was that surge of all those sleepless nights kicking in with a NOS of energy and confidence that seemed to give the jet fighter above us life – we heard it roar with power to take off… it was our roar that gave us the boost. We won the nationals too and we were off to the  2019 International 4×4 Landrover Competition for Schools held from 13 to 16 April 2019 at Warwick University, Coventry, in the UK. It was the most amazing time of our  lives with the bonus of having to stay a week longer to tour.  The most striking point that made us realise that we onto something was on the very first night of preparation. We just got to the campus and unpacked and began with the competition rules of taking the car for a full inspection. On route we were met by the team from Germany asking us for help with some technical issue with their car as well as a design issue. We offered the little help we could in that very short space of time because time and deadlines were of urgency. There were over 50 teams from across the globe. What an intense feeling!Having interacted with the participating learners as well as with their counterparts, it became clear that this exercise was a great success in terms of the award won (as well as being nominated for another), the valuable experience they gained from interaction with the judges – especially their feedback – and the career opportunities which were presented to them from various stakeholders in the engineering industry and learning institutions. The Insomniacs Team won the Judges’ Special Award for accomplishments beyond the actual participation, such as the illiteracy programme and the contribution to society; the team was also nominated for the Trailer Towing Award.

Furthermore, the team was given insight into the fields of design, electronics and future engineering – they were privileged to listen to leaders in development at the Landrover plant that even most employees were not allowed to witness. Hence it follows that the competition was far more than mere participation: it presented our learners with unique career opportunities and motivation for those who must follow in their footsteps. It has also become very clear that the teams access to financial resources impeded their real potential, since lack of money denied them the possibility to produce a more detailed vehicle and a more detailed verbal presentation; the teams who had access to unlimited resources performed very well. It does not at all take away from the way our team excelled even within limits.New horizons are now beckoning for Islamic School in the light of what has been learned from the participation, now that areas of improvement have been identified, such as fundraising, utilising the feedback on the competition’s requirements per se for improvement in all aspects and the involvement of other schools. 

At the launchpad of the obstacle course. Check out the new design of our 4×4 named “Journey”

Schools are what they are and when they open vistas of achievements, the whole school gets a boost. The Special Judges Award and the nomination in the Trailer Towing Award was really gratifying. I must commend Mr. C.J.Kruger for his commitment and dedication to the team from day one of involvement. His unselfish nature and calmness gave the team the boost of confidence at every moment when it was needed the most. This is what builds character and that is what pupils need to see because they will be people who take leadership roles in society. 

PLEASE click on the bubble below and download the portfolio that has all the details of design and engineering behind the story of success. It makes worthwhile reading.

When I look back on 2017 to 2019 it was a wonderful because the challenges were the actual successes. This is how success is disguised. The team members were the real heroes because they refused to give up. They took all the criticism, the heartache, the failure and the disparaging remarks as well. However, when they went out for donations and fundraising they were pleasantly surprised. When astute businessmen interacted with these young men they realised their entrepreneurial potential and invested in them. This investment gave them a boost and credibility that otherwise would have been lost. We don’t realise how investment in children goes a long way in establishing stronger societies. Societies grow because there is a constant feed of new ideas which lends itself to innovation. The innovation in most cases are practiced within the society and it then generates more confidence and reliability. When a society has confidence and reliability it becomes resilient against failure. This is what people want because hope is the one thing that gives power and invokes passion.

The passion to live, to conquer, to strive, to seek and to know are innate in the psyche of every human. Such is the passion that it will give you sleepless nights and you will become an insomniac. An insomniac for success and not a statistic of a medical condition.

The passion kept them awake. What keeps you awake?

Abdullah Sujee

The plaque that graces Roshnee Islamic School


4 thoughts on “TEAM INSOMNIACS!”

  1. It truly was an amazing experience being a part of the team. Learning the backstory of how the competition was introduced to the school (seemingly by chance) is a refreshing reminder of how taqdeer leads our lives. Thank you to Mr Sujee for being our mentor, without his motivation, encouragement and guidance we wouldn’t have the confidence and even skills in communication to make it through. Hope another team from RIS will make it through again 😁

    1. Captain, my Captain! Yes it was surely was. You were a great team leader then and a budding leader in all other avenues. Yes, I hope RIS can participate again.
      Thank you for the comment. Yes, Taqdeer/predestination is the divine plan of Allah, the all knowing and we don’t question it.

  2. Being given an opportunity to work with this team has been a blast. I would do it all again if it were possible. I thank each and every member of the team for seamless work and dedication. Reading the above article brought back splendid memories and above that refreshes ideas of fabrication which thanks to my current situation allows me to manufacture stronger custom vehicle designs for future teams for the Islamic School and perhaps become a mentor. Once again being a member of the team was a great feat for all of those who have been in the team and those who have helped in the background.

    1. Thank you. You are a star. I wish you the best in all your future ventures. You guys set standards of excellence. Well done! It was pleasure to have you as part of the team.

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