Griquas Women’s Youth Training Centre (YTC) coach Ronald Maarman is not scared to take on massive challenges and loves to encourage players to find creative ways to train and to make the most of their opportunities, despite the limited training facilities in the region.
The training centre – based in the Northern Cape town of Springbok – 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, Eastern Province, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo Blue Bulls, SWD and Western Province rugby unions.
Since the inception of the Griquas YTC in March 2016, the programme has grown to include 384 participants, and Maarman hopes to see this grow to over 600 in the next year.“The YTC programme offers young girls from rural and urban areas an opportunity to learn the game of rugby and to improve themselves in terms of their fitness levels and the prospects the sport offers,” said Maarman.
“In the rural areas, especially, there is a lack of proper training facilities, but despite this, I encourage the players to challenge themselves to use what is available to improve their fitness and skills levels.
“Most of the schools have fields, for example, so they need to make the most of their time there and use the facilities, while one can do body weight training at home without any equipment, so they simply have to be smart about their training.
“One of the biggest challenges we face as a YTC is the vast distances the players have to travel within the region to attend joint-training sessions, so effective planning and co-ordinating are among the keys to success of the programme. This also means that we have to make the most of the time we have to work with the players.
“There are many talented players throughout the region, and we would like to see them represent the national team in future.”
The YTC, which operates in the Namakwa District, hosts training sessions four days a week, and operates through schools within the region.
Five YTC players were invited to the national Under-20 training camp last year, with three of them having played their way into the senior Griquas Women’s Interprovincial team, while flanker Micaela Deeb, centre Nellodene De Wee and No 8 Maxine Engelbrecht attended the national U20 training camp this year.
Another former player, Cameron Dyers, meanwhile, is on the SA Rugby Women’s referee panel, and Maarman is confident that the programme will continue to create a pathway for players to advance through the women’s rugby structures.
“The improvement in the quality of the players within our junior ranks has been the highlight of the YTC programme for me in the last year-and-a-half,” said Maarman.
“The players’ fitness and skills levels have improved significantly, and it is pleasing to see some of players make inroads into the national structures. With more hard work and dedication from the players, we hope to see many more young ladies follow in their footsteps.”
Girls between the ages of 14 and 18 wishing take up rugby and individuals in and around the Northern Cape region who would like to get involved in the YTC can contact the centre’s administrator, Nombulelo Mayongo on email@example.com
For photos and more information follow Griquas YTC on Facebook.