TuksSport coach sets out to help revive rugby in Eersterust and change players’ lives

Posted on January 30, 2019

Rugby in Eersterust, east of Pretoria, has been in decline for a few years – including rugby at school level.

Willy Eckard, rugby organiser at Nantes Primêre Skool, explains that often the pupils need to resort to playing touch rugby, as they don’t have the proper equipment. “I can honestly say that our players are just as talented as that of any other school, but due to a lack of opportunities they never get to fulfil their real talent. To see this happening as a coach is really disheartening.”

TuksRugby’s Coach Dabeon Draghoender decided he had to get actively involved in trying to revive a rugby culture in the area. Draghoender says there are two main reasons why he’s so passionate about the issue. First, his experience as coach of the Tuks Young Guns, when he found he had to recruit far and wide from all over South Africa. “Can it indeed be that there are not enough good players in Pretoria? I believe there is a real talent in a community like Eersterust. The same goes for Mamelodi, Atteridgeville and Soshanguve. The challenge is just to make sure all young players get proper coaching from early on.

“From personal experience I can say that rugby is a means to change youngster’s lives. I also come from a poor background. Rugby has certainly changed my life for the better. I want the same for the players of Eersterust. My goal is to have some of them playing for Tuks hopefully, and maybe the Bulls in five to six years from now. The ultimate would be if I can get a few players to also study at Tuks.”

According to Draghoender, drugs and gangsterism are sad realities for many children growing up in Eersterust. “Again from my experience, sport – in this case, rugby – is a way to teach the players from a young age what discipline and hard work are all about. I want the kids to dream. The bigger their dreams, the better, as it would mean they are laying a proper foundation for life. It is a case of a healthy body leads to a healthy mind.

"I have found that gangsters tend to be in awe of those who succeed in their community through hard work. No one willingly chose to be a career criminal, but unfortunately many are forced to do so due to a lack of any real opportunities."

The next big breakthrough in turning things around happened last week, when Investec donated R45 000 worth of rugby equipment to Nantes Primêre Skool.

Onnyen Louw, an avid Bryan Habana supporter, is thrilled about his school’s new equipment. “Rugby is everything to me. I can’t live without rugby. Now we are getting the opportunity to play real rugby, and that is exciting.”


- Author Wilhelm de Swardt

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