WP YTC makes solid strides in player development
The Western Province Women’s Youth Training Centre (YTC) is making solid strides in developing quality players who are making their presence felt at national and provincial level, with two players having represented the SA Select Women’s team in England and six the Western Province Women’s Interprovincial team.
The training centre 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, Griquas and SWD rugby unions.
Since the establishment of the WP YTC in 2015, Ncediswa Mahijani (prop) and Felicia Jacobs (scrumhalf) have made the step-up to the SA Select Women’s team that participated in the first 15-a-side international tour since the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup. Two other players, Thandile Mazwi (flanker) and Alicia Willemse (scrumhalf), participated in the national training camps.
Alana Horne, Nabeelah Ajam, Zizipho Qhaba, Jacobs, Zintle Nonkosana and Lihle Mzimkhulu represented WP’s senior women’s team in the SA Rugby Women’s Interprovincial Competition.
In the last two-and-a half years, the Western Province YTC – based at City Park Stadium in Athlone – has grown from 75 participants to 300, with the centre hosting weekly training sessions, with coach Rodger Smith – who also served as an SA Select Women’s assistant coach on the England tour – targeting an increase of 300 players per year going forward.
In addition to the training sessions, fortnightly rugby festivals are hosted in various communities where schools get together and play rugby at U14, U16 and U18 level.
“The YTC programme is important because it offers young girls an opportunity to learn the game of rugby and to participate in a competitive structure,” said Smith.
“With many of them coming from disadvantaged communities they also learn important life and social skills, while the programme also gives them a cause and allows them to excel at something. Through this they are able to break the mould, rather than becoming a statistic like many of the girls in their communities.
“Since the inception of the programme a number of our Under-18 players have been selected for the SA Select Women’s squad, senior and junior national training camps, and the Western Province women’s interprovincial team respectively, which proves that we are on the right track.”
The YTC also assists with the development of coaches and referees through its volunteering structures, most of whom are invited from schools and clubs, while another vital element of the centre is the educational support it provides where possible through its relationship with the University of the Western Cape (UWC) and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT).
“Through this programme we also strive to improve the communities in which we operate by upskilling coaches, teachers and volunteers who assist us in making this programme successful,” said Smith.
“We also offer the players an opportunity to become referees within the junior ranks, and they are paid for this service.”
The advancement of players in the country’s main women’s competitions aside, the programme’s success is also evident in the team’s performances in the annual SA Rugby Youth Training Centre tournament, where Western Province’s U18 team won the north section in 2015 and 2016, while their U16 team emerged victorious in the north section in 2015 and this year.
Girls between the ages of 14 and 18 wishing take up rugby and individuals in and around the Western Province region who would like to get involved in the YTC can contact the centre’s administrator, Melissa Limenyande on email@example.com
For photos and more information follow Western Province Rugby Youth Training Centre on Facebook, and @wprugby_ytc on Instagram.