Only two years after the launch of the Limpopo Women’s Youth Training Centre (YTC), the programme is making solid strides in achieving its growth and development objectives while simultaneously breaking social barriers.
The Limpopo centre is one of eight SA Rugby YTC’s 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 programmers. The other seven centers are based at the Blue Bulls, Border, Eastern Province, KwaZulu-Natal, Griquas, SWD and Western Province rugby unions.
The Limpopo programme kicked off in 2015 with 250 participants across three districts – Capricorn District, Mopani and Vhembe – and has grown to include 620 girls from all five districts – including Sekhukhune and Waterberg – and the centre is determined to achieve further growth in the next few years as it strives to create a Women’s rugby hub in the community.
Training sessions are hosted three times a week in each of the Limpopo Districts, while the players are also educated on the importance of balancing their training with a good nutritional programme to achieve maximum results.
“The YTC programme has far more significance than developing young female rugby players,” said the Limpopo YTC’s administrator Mongatane Makola.
“It brings people together by providing opportunities for social interaction between players, parents, teachers, coaches and Principals, while simultaneously empowering, inspiring and motivating the participants and the coaches.
“It also ensures that the players focus on fitness rather than spending their free time playing television and computer games, and this, in turn, has positive effects on their mental health and physical well-being, and prevents them from engaging in antisocial behavior and crime.
“The programme has also proven to break social barriers, as players from the three different tribes in the province have been able to overcome the language and cultural differences and share the same interests and experiences.”
Limpopo YTC coach Ignatious Semenya was pleased with the strides made since the center was launched and said they would like to achieve much more in future.
“Our main goals are to recruit more players, who could possibly represent our province and the national team in a few years, such as Rights Mkhari who played for the Springbok Women’s Sevens and SA Select Women’s team that featured in the England tour last month, and more female rugby coaches,” said Semenya.
“Another big objective for us is to change the negative perception about women playing rugby in the rural areas of Limpopo, as women in sport are still victims of discrimination due to the belief that they should fulfill domestic roles, rather than play sport.”
Girls between the ages of 14 and 18 wishing take up rugby and individuals in and around the Limpopo Province who would like to get involved in the YTC can contact the centre’s administrator, Mongatane Makola on MongataneM@sarugby.co.za