Support needed for the Deaf Rugby Springboks!Thomas Kwenaite
By Andile Dladla and Mandla Dladla
South Africa is a country that loves rugby and is very passionate about the oval game. The Springboks are and all the national teams are zealously followed and supported by the people but few are aware that there are also teams of deaf rugby.
But recently the narrative has been changing from people living with disabilities to people living with extra ordinary special abilities or super powers.
The South African Deaf Rugby Association(SADRA) is leading the way in making sure that South Africa is not left behind when it comes to growing and nurturing the talents of both men and women participating in the sport.
They have been traveling across the country holding training camps and making sure they select some of the finest players that will represent South Africa at the World Deaf Sevens Championship in Cordoba, Argentina during April 2023.
Vice-president of the SADRA Lauren Terras highlights some of the most important things which are needed in preparation ahead of the world showpiece.
“SADRA is an affiliate to SA Rugby and our national coach is former Springbok Coach, Peter de Villiers,” said Terras. “The assistant coach is Marlize van der Merwe (former Springbok, Blitzbok and current Cheetahs Ladies coach as well as a SARU referee). We last sent a team to compete at a World Cup during 1995.
“We are looking for partners to assist in taking a contingent of about 20 members (14 players and six supporting staff) and we will be competing against Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Wales, Japan, Kenya, and Ghana.
“We are happy to look at partners’ own personal drives should this be required to get over the line like Holiday schools clinics, training camps, Adopt a School Program and or a rugby day with your staff /clients BUT we would be open to curate with you.”
Ipeleng “Kcrazylegz” Khunou runs marathons on crutches and has against all odds proved to the world that one can achieve anything you want no matter your disabilities.
He is a huge supporter of South African Deaf Rugby and has nothing but good wishes for both our men and women’s teams.
“World Disability day is a day that I would most probably say should be used to audit our surroundings on how accessible the environment is,” said Khunou.
“I would love to see the day being used as an opportunity to have a conversation on disability and so called “normal world” realising that if we can create an accessible environment then everyone will be equal.
“I love sport in general and when I met with coach Marlize at the Rugby 10s tournament which was held in Stellenbosch during this year, I was curious to find out how she is doing as a coach and coaching athletes who’s challenge is communication specially in rugby which is a contact and fast sports which often requires loud screams etc.
“I would like to wish the players a good tournament, I want them to only focus on the rugby and they must enjoy that experience because nothing is bigger than a World Cup.”
Khunou is of the view that we have retrogressed alarmingly in Deaf Rugby, but the Rugby Deaf World Cup offers the country an opportunity to put up structures in place for the next one in four-year’s time.
“I would also like to see disability sports being taken seriously and using our para athletes as a voice to breach that gap that still exists in our communities when we talk about disability.
“Let me edge all South Africans to get behind the team. We always support the Boks and I would like to invite everyone to support these Boks too and come and experience the other side of Rugby.”