The Eastern Province Women’s Youth Training Centre (YTC) has set its sights on increasing the number of participants in the programme to 2000 by 2020 as it looks to grow women’s rugby in the region and make a solid contribution to national development.
The training centre – based at the Missionvale campus of the Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth – is one of eight located throughout the country with the purpose of bolstering the women’s game by developing a bigger pool of players and grooming them for top-class rugby.
Through the programme players from the ages of 14 to 18 years participate in regular training sessions and matches and have access to conditioning and healthy eating plans. The other seven centers are based at the Blue Bulls, Border, Griquas, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo Blue Bulls, SWD and Western Province rugby unions.
The Eastern Province YTC kicked off in 2015 with 210 players, and through its hard work and determination to recruit new young girls to the sport, the number of participants has tripled to 631 this year.
The programme operates in the Nelson Mandela Metro, Sarah Baartman and Chris Hani Districts, and hosts three field training sessions and one gym session a week. It also hosts a school league one day a week and hosts coaching clinics at schools throughout the region.
“The programme is important because it gives young girls an opportunity participate in an organised programme and creates a pathway for them to progress to higher honours in the sport,” said coach Xola Jacobs.
“Players who are part of the programme are easily recognised due to their improved skill-set and they have a good chance of being selected for the provincial side at age-group and senior level.
“This programme is vital to the development of women’s rugby in the region and the country, and we hope to see even bigger growth in the next few years. In line with that we have set a personal goal to reach the 2000 mark by 2020, and we will do our best to achieve that.”
To Jacobs’ delight the YTC has produced a number of players who have made the step-up to higher honours in the last three years and he hopes to see many more follow in their footsteps.
“In 2015 four of our players were invited to the SA Rugby high performance camp in Paarl and eight players were invited in 2016,” said Jacobs.
“We also had eight players in the Eastern Province senior women’s Interprovincial team in 2017, and seven of our players were invited to the SA Rugby Under-20 high performance camp, so we are making steady progress, and we believe this will continue if everyone continues to put in the hard yards on and off the field.
“In addition to this our Under-16 YTC team won the south section of annual YTC tournament in 2015, which shows that we are on the right track.”
Girls between the ages of 14 and 18 wishing take up rugby and individuals in and around the Port Elizabeth area who would like to get involved in the YTC can contact the centre’s administrator, Thandiswa Nxomani on firstname.lastname@example.org