Rugby is a sport defined by the camaraderie displayed between all involved in this great game. Tales of great games followed by a pint in the pub have been told since the dawn of rugby. Nothing enshrines this more than an individual overcoming great personal distress off field and displaying greatness on field. Without further a due, please allow me to introduce, Paul Roos 2nd/3rd XV fullback, Kerwin Noemdo.
15: How old are you?
Kerwin: I’m 17 turning 18 on the 12th of September.
15: Being in Grade 12 at Paul Roos Gymnasium, what are your plans for next year?
Kerwin: I am going to study BSc Conservation Ecology at the University of Stellenbosch, and carry on with my athletics at Maties. I hope to achieve my long term goal which is to go to the 2016 Paralympics (for shot put and discus) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
15: Tell us a bit about your disability, when and how did it happen?
Kerwin: When I was in my mothers stomach, her umbilical cord went around my right wrist, but because I was lying with my right arm behind my back the doctors could not see anything wrong. I was born with an under-developed right hand. About 5 months after birth the doctor said its just going to be a nuisance for me, and it will be better to amputate it.
15: How many years have you been playing rugby?
Kerwin: I started in grade 1, so I’ve been playing for 12 years now already.
15: How have you adapted your playing style to incorporate your disability?
Kerwin: I wouldn’t say I had to adapt my style, because I could never remember having two hands, so the same way other people learned how to play with two hands, I learned to play with one hand. It would have been difficult for me if I had two hands and played rugby for a couple of years with two hands, and then somehow lost my hand, I would’ve struggled then to cope. But for me everything feels normal and comes naturally.
15: Any rugby memories you would like to share?
Kerwin: That’s a difficult one because obviously after every game there are things you like to talk about and to remember, but I’m going to have to say my last two leagues games for Paul Roos. Our second last league game was against Drostdy, I played second team and we were 21-17 behind, I scored in the corner literally next to the corner flag and kicked the conversion to make the score 21-24 in our favour. Then they scored but did not convert the conversion so the score was 26-24 with 2 minutes left, I kicked off, we regathered the ball and eventually won a penalty about 35m out and 15m in field on the right-hand side. I had to kick the penalty to with the game and the kick was successful, so we won 26-27. Another memory is obviously my last game against Grey College, in Bloemfontein, where I kicked the last conversion to draw the game 18-18.
15: Who are your rugby role models?
Kerwin: I have to say John Kirwan of New Zealand, being named after him (although my name is spelt differently, Kerwin). But my two favourite fullbacks of all time are Christian Cullen of New Zealand and Andre Joubert of South Africa.
Both my Grandfathers also played an important role in my rugby partcipation, so the two of them as well.
15: Do you have any rugby aspirations?
Kerwin: Not really, I’m going to focus on my athletics from this point forward. But maybe one day in the far far future my son will achieve more than me in rugby (chuckles).
15: As a source of inspiration yourself, what words of advice can you offer?
Kerwin: People need to start to realise that you can do anything if you put your mind to it, the brain is our most powerful weapon. We shouldnt let our God given talents go to waste. And we shouldnt let others discourage us, if we want to do something we should do it 100%. Everything is possible in life, IMPOSSIBLE IS NOTHING!
Rugby enthusiasts are fanatical in their support for their national, regional and local teams. They travel longs distances to attend matches, view broadcasts on television and also the re-broadcasts later in the week! They follow the discussions on television, radio, newspapers and the many rugby websites. They wish to know more and are hungry for information!