Photo: Sheldon Matthys on duty for South African National Parks
From remote fishing villages to the largest metropolitan areas, the unsung heroes of South African club rugby are being given the tools to help grassroots rugby thrive, thanks to SARU’s ClubWise programme.
More than 350 people, responsible for keeping the heartbeat of club rugby beating strongly, have completed the ClubWise course which is designed to produce qualified club administrators with the skills to run rugby clubs.
Courses have been presented in Springbok, Jansenville, Cradock and Graaff Reinet, as well as the larger metropolitan areas as ClubWise has reached every corner of the country.
Sheldon Matthys is a section ranger at the Namaqua National Park and club manager at the Hondeklipbaai Rugby Club, 90km down a dirt road from the nearest national road. He completed the ClubWise qualification through the Griqualand West Rugby Union.
“The ClubWise course has benefited our club immensely as we have improved the general management of the club significantly, while we have also managed to engage a larger section of the community in our activities,” said Mr Matthys.
“The change has been so positive we have already managed to attract potential sponsors, which is very pleasing. We have also started our planning for the 2015 season and we would like to send a few of our staff for specialist medical and financial training courses to further improve the operation of the club.”
The programme is certified by the Cathsseta (the Culture, Arts, Tourism, Hospitality and Sport Sector Education and Training Authority) and is a NQF Level 5 approved course. It was designed by SARU to improve the skills of rugby club administrators in order to sustain and grow the game at grass-roots level.
One of the most encouraging aspects since the inception of the programme has been the interest among women to take up the course, with more than 30 women having already been accredited.
One of the accredited women is Griqualand West Rugby Union secretary for amateur and development rugby, Melissa Niewenhuizen, who assists at the Universals Rugby Club in Kimberley.
“I enjoyed the ClubWise course because it was very detailed and covered all the different aspects involved with running a club effectively,” said Ms Niewenhuizen.
“Fund-raising, financials and committees, for example, are vital aspects in sustaining a club, so it was good to learn more about that as well as the role each administrator has to fulfil. It also assisted me in terms of my job as it gave me a better insight into the problems clubs experience and how to deal with those issues in my role at the union.”
Niewenhuizen now hopes to find a suitable management team that could assist her in the revival of the Phistles rugby club in Kimberley, which was forced to close its doors several years ago.
The ClubWise Guide and course was developed by a steering committee of SARU experts and provincial and club rugby veterans in conjunction with the Sports Science Institute of South Africa.
The courses are held over two days after which participants are expected to submit an assignment to be assessed.
To register for a ClubWise course administrators should contact either their respective Provincial Union’s development or training and education departments, or SARU’s Development department.