A young Tony Dobson had two busy working parents and therefore chose to attend boarding school. He matriculated at CBC Kimberly, a spot remote from rowing. He continued his education at Galway University in Ireland where he majored in Theology.
On returning to South Africa he converted his BA into a teaching qualification at JCE. His dedication to his chosen profession was soon recognised at Athlone Boys High where he was promoted to Vice Principal.
In 1983,Tony took up the challenge as Deputy Principal of St. Benedict’s College. The impact he had on this school resulted in his being appointed the first lay principal in 1984. Mr Dobson soon realised that the growth of his school would necessitate the introduction of a new sport. He chose rowing and on a cold Saturday morning four Bennies boys arrived at VLC for the first time. This is where they now have their boathouse. Germiston High kindly lent their boats out and St Benedict’s attended their first regatta, the 1987 Wemmer Sprints. In 1987, the first race was won, an ‘F’ sculls event. The celebration and award in assembly lured many boys to the sport.
Mr Dobson provided money for three sculls, towed boats, attended more regattas and with each success found a way of acquiring more equipment. In 1994, Mr Dobson returned from China with an entire container of boats. The success of St. Benedict’s rowing can be largely attributed to Mr Tony Dobson’s vision.
Tony Dobson worked closely with the late Tom Price and together they created a ‘launch pad’ for South African Schools Rowing. Without their foundations, SA Schools Rowing would not be in the prime position in which we currently see it. They implemented a number of initiatives including the introduction of girls’ schools rowing, promoting Junior Rowing internationally and restructuring SA Schools Championships into the event it is today. This was through their sheer hard work and commitment.
Mr Dobson was the architect behind the Schools’ Boat race. It can be said, without fear of contradiction, that Mr Dobson and Mr Price were stalwarts of South African Schools Rowing for over a decade, an organisation which has under it’s wings more than 65% of South African rowers.
South African Schools Rowing expresses sincere gratitude to Mr Dobson.