Schoolboy rugby players in previously disadvantaged areas will now be able to have access to scientific training methods and gym facilities thanks to the Coca-Cola Schools Excellence programme launched by SARU on Saturday at the Wesbank Sports Ground in Malmesbury in the Boland province.
The programme will initially be rolled out to 20 schools in Western Province, Boland, Border, Southwestern Districts and Eastern Province and there are plans to eventually expand the initiative so that rugby playing schools in previously disadvantaged areas across the countries will benefit from it.
On Saturday SARU and Coca-Cola hosted the national launch event of the programme at the Wesbank Sports Ground at Malmesbury in one of the traditional heartland areas of South African rugby. The event coincided with a festival rugby day and the top fixture of the 8-match schools programme featured the first teams of Schoonspruit and Weston High.
The two schools forms part of the initial intake of schools, which includes 6 schools from Boland, 4 each from Western Province and Eastern Province and 3 each from Border and Southwestern Districts.
Mervin Green, the SARU GM for Development, said the Coca-Cola Schools Excellence Programme will be an instrumental tool in the effort to close the gap between traditional rugby playing schools and those located in previously disadvantaged communities.
According to Green, a recent study at the Coca-Cola Craven Weeks highlighted the gap in size and weight of white players compared to black players, which were attributed to a lack of strength training. The study ascribed two of the main reasons for non-participation in strength training in those communities to a lack of access to weight training facilities and the absence of training programmes.
“With these factors in mind, SARU – with the assistance of Coca-Cola and the Sports Science Institute of SA – designed a holistic intervention programme that will run for at least the next four years. The programme includes the provision of a fully equipped mobile gym, specific rugby training equipment and playing kit, training and education programmes as well as the provision of sufficient playing opportunities,” explains Green.
SARU requested the Sports Science Institute to assist with the design of a scientific solution and the Institute then developed the Mobile School Training System (MSTS). Apart from the provision of these mobile gyms, the Sports Science Institute will also provide training manuals, training aids and an instructional DVD, which will tutor teachers on the correct exercise execution and age appropriate exercises.
Up to 40 schools players will be able to use the mobile gym facility at the same time.
“This programme provides an additional platform for players to develop and in doing so stand a better chance to represent his province in our Coca-Cola Craven Weeks,” said Craig Van Niekerk, Marketing Asset Manager, Coca-Cola South Africa. “For 27 years Coca-Cola has been developing international rugby players and this statistic can only be enhanced through this programme.”
Green added: “SARU believes that one of the key ways of improving the standard of rugby at these schools is to improve the standard of competition. This year those schools enrolled in the programme will be requested to play festival games against other participating schools in their province. The idea is to expand the programme in 2014 countrywide.”
The 20 schools participating in the Coca-Cola Schools Excellence Programme are:
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