Legends launch CT schools initiative

The Western Cape branch of the eLan SA Rugby Legends have launched an unprecedented schools rugby transformation initiative in Cape Town – UCTRFC are also invoved though Barry O’Mahony as well as the Ubumbo Society. Rugby365 reports.

Dale Santon, a former Springbok and representative of the SA Rugby Legends, was on hand to announce the start of this fantastic initiative which is set to reach schools across Cape Town; in Khayelitsha, Nyanga, Gugulethu, Langa, Mitchells Plain, Manenberg and the Southern Suburbs.

The Vuka (‘Awakening’) tournament will involve 64 schools from around Cape Town – most of which have never been involved in rugby before.

Each school will be supplied with a set of jerseys, which are co-sponsored by local and international organisations; with Vulindlela, I&J, Santam, Deloitte, the JDI Foundation, Sentinel International Trust, Veritas Wealth, Trellicor Group, Lancelot Developments, the Sports Science Orthopedic Clinic, Office National, Power Group, Adlab and Britefire all sponsoring teams in the Vuka League.

The league is divided into eight zones with eight teams participating in each zone. Each school will play at a selected school venue their zone every week on a Wednesday.

“This project represents true transformation,” said Santon, a Springbok in 2003. “It’s about taking 1400 kids away from the streets and the gangs and putting them onto a sports field.”

He added: “Imagine there is a boy out there with talent, who will now have a coach, kit, fixtures and may even play at Newlands for the league final in front of a big crowd at the end of the year? It has been so rewarding for all of us to get behind Gerald Njengele and Ismail Teladia (Department of Education) who had the vision to put this together.”

Gerald Njengele, who is the head of schools at WP Rugby and a principal of the Langa High School, said: “It was critical that each school was given their own jersey, with their own colours and school name on it.

“We want the boys to have a sense of pride in the institution they represent. They do not have this at the moment. Also everything that we are doing flows into WP Rugby structures so we are creating a pool of players and supporters in relatively new areas.”

The structures put in place via the Vuka League may also have benefits extending beyond rugby, according to Barry O’Mahony of the JDI Foundation.

“Probably the greatest legacy we will leave behind will be the committees in each zone,” said O’Mahony, who is also a member of the UCT Rugby Football Club.

“There is no reason why those committees cannot arrange fixtures in other codes simultaneously. What we have learned from Ismail Teladia, who is a driving force on our committee, is that ‘extra-curricular’ activities in these schools are all but dead. Our goal is to get the teachers back coaching teams and get many of the rugby loving parents back and involved directly with the schools.”

SA Rugby Legends, together with the Department of Sport and Culture and WP Rugby, intends to roll this project out at an Under-16 and Under-14 level as well, and there are plans for a ladies’ team in each school too.

“Whilst the funds for the U19 league have been raised this year, the assistance of the Department of Sports and Culture as well as private partnerships will be necessary to raise sufficient funds to cater for participation on this scale”, said Mike Barr (Chairman of the SA Legends Cup Committee).

The Ubombo Society, together with UCT RFC (who form a partnership already), will be providing coaching support to the Vuka League throughout the year.

The coaching initiative was launched in February when Geoff Crowster of WP Rugby and his team coached 100 coaches at IRB Level 1 in the various league areas.

The first round of the Vuka League will finish on Thursday, June 11 at which time the local committees will choose their representative sides and coaches who will play in the Mega 8 tournament, playing for the Legends Cup.

The final of the aptly-named ‘Mega 8’ will be played at Newlands on October 3, 2009 – as a warm-up to the Western Province v Boland Currie Cup fixture.

“We are delighted to be involved in such a great grass routes Under-19 project,” said Cameron Dugmore, the outgoing minister of Sport and Culture.

“When we heard about it through the SA Rugby Legends we jumped at the opportunity to help what we see as a truly sustainable model for transformation in sport.”