"Rugby's not just a game, it's a way of life..."

Grassroots Rugby Interview (2013)

Q: Tell us more about this Academy and your exciting project called African Development Program?

TP: "KAIWHANA Rugby and kicking workshops have been presented in “previously disadvantaged” rural areas in 2012, giving back to the community the experience gained through playing the game we love so much! Currently as mentioned earlier whilst in SA, I have volunteered my services to coaching the local team in the town I find myself. I take time out every morning as the sun rises over the rolling hills of the Karoo and thank God for the opportunities I have been given. I pray for these youngsters, teams and coaches that still not have access to the riches of a “first world” rugby playing nation! I hope that in time our beautiful game and all it stands for becomes accessible to all, and that everybody gets the opportunity to showcase their talent on an equal stage and realise their rugby dreams!!!

Q: Are you getting any support from SARU, EPRU or local municipalities of the area you operate in?

TP: Yes I have. Through the BokSmart initiative and the help of Richard Lewis from SARU, KAIWHANA Rugby launched their African Development program in 2012 and helped in training prospective coaches and referees through BokSmart in the Northern Cape. I believe more can be done from EPRU as there is no monetary input from the union towards this club in particular. The Noupoort Diamonds RFC competes in the Karoo Sub Union competition, under the auspices of the Eastern Province Rugby Union. The club has a barren pitch (no grass) their equipment consists of 4 cones, 3 very old balls, 2 haggard driving shields and 1 tackle bag. This has to cover almost 60 eager rugby players with an immense wealth of talent! The fact that almost 80% of these players are unemployed leaves me with tears in my eyes! The municipality… what municipality???

Q: What’s your take on South African rugby’s approach to the game development in the rural and disadvantaged communities of our country? Do you think they are doing enough?

TP: I personally believe more can be done. I cannot understand how a registered club in the Union can be so neglected when the Union is spending massive amounts of money investing in players from abroad and “experienced campaigners” to bolster their Super 15 aspirations whilst the club rugby structure is neglected? One would not expect to find conditions like these in the top rugby playing nation in the world! How many talented youngsters are lost through our inability to reach down to grassroots level and develop and identify “home-grown” talent? 

Q: What is your message to the up and coming rugby players in South Africa?

TP: Never stop dreaming and never give up trying! What you put in is what you are going to get out! I have seen many stories of players overcoming many obstacles to rise from their situation and achieve their goals, believe you are one of them


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