Many will consider 31 to still being a youngster, meaning inexperienced, but then again age is nothing more than numbers on paper it can never be an accurate reflection on any person’s ability.
For the 31-year-old Dabeon Draghoender who has been appointed to coach the UP-Tuks’s Young Guns in the Varsity Cup Tournament the key to success for any goal is passion. You got to want to be the best at what you do.
From that very first moment he touched the ball he fell in love with the rugby. He instantly knew he wanted to leave his mark on the game. His early aspirations were to do so as a player and while playing as a junior it seemed as if he would.
Draghoender represented the Griffons three years at the Cravenweek for High Schools. He then went on to play inside centre for the South African under-19 team. Western Province contracted him to play for the Vodacom Team. He was also part of the Maties Team that won the Varsity Cup in 2009 and 2010.
Unfortunately for Draghoender, his body could not keep up with his talent which led to him spending more time in the company of doctors and physiotherapists than he would have liked. At 26 he realised that he was never going to fulfil his dreams as a player, but it did not mean that his passion for the rugby diminished at all.
“My real goal was always to coach as it offers me the constant challenge to improve myself as a person as well as to have a positive impact on the lives of other people. As a coach, you can never sit back and think now I know it all. That is why I am continually doing introspection not only to what is happening in my personal life but also as a coach. You got to evaluate forever what you are doing and be honest enough admit when you have erred.
“It is also important to realise that no two players are the same. The challenge is to try and find out what makes every player ‘tick’. Only then you can start working on gelling them as a team.”
Draghoender is a firm believer in that players should take responsibility on and off the field.
“When a player makes a mistake I don’t believe in penalising them as it serves no purpose. I would take time off to explain on an individual basis as to what I expect of them. Then it is up to the player himself to what he makes with what he has been taught. As they say, you can take a horse up to the water, but you cannot make him drink.
“It is also important to me not to coach players to stick to a fixed game plan. During a match, they got to be able to think for themselves."
Draghoender will be assisted by Andries Kruger. The two of them seemed to have mastered the art of getting players to lift the standard of their game for when it really matters. Last year they coached UP-Tuks to win the Varsity Sevens Tournament.
UP-Tuks has got a proud tradition in the Young Guns Competition having won it on four occasions and losing twice in the final.
UP-Tuks’s first game is on 4 February at home against CUT.