Looks can be deceiving

2014-11-18 00:00

IF ever looks can be deceiving, look no further than Hillcrest High School pupil Micaela ­Groenewald.

The 17-year-old Grade 11 pupil gives no indication of her passion for one of sport’s toughest games as she goes through another day of school, red hair tied in a ponytail, thick-rimmed black glasses and a schoolbag tucked under her arm.

The only giveaway is her right arm in a sling. A shoulder injury picked up playing the sport she loves — touch rugby.

“I enjoy touch rugby and currently captain Hillcrest High’s girls’ first team. My dream though, is to play proper contact 15-a-side rugby and sevens,” she said.

Such is Micaela’s skill and pace when playing touch rugby that she has been selected for the SA Open women’s side, attending a squad camp later this month in Cape Town with an eye on the World Cup in Australia in April next year.

“Sport does it for me. I love being active and although my current injury won’t prevent me attending the training camp, I am restless,” she said.

“Touch rugby started for me in Grade 8. I played indoor hockey and then tried my hand at the game, which I decided to take a little further.”

Micaela’s sporting prowess has been rewarded with the best All Round Sportswoman trophy at the school’s annual sports awards. Playing touch rugby, hockey (indoor and outdoor) and soccer, all at first team level, it’s fitting reward for a determined youngster who has some hard and fast goals to achieve.

“At the moment, I am too young to play full contact rugby but I have been to a few practice sessions at Berea Rovers,” she said. “When I arrived at Hillcrest High, I was in awe of Tayla Kinsey, who was my senior when I was in Grade 8. She played rugby and is now in the SA women’s 15-a-side contact team. I wanted to emulate her.”

In the three years since Micaela started playing touch rugby, the accolades have come quickly. In 2012, she was the KZN U15 captain and last year, aged 16, made the KZN U19 team. This year, she made the U19 team again, playing at the junior interprovincial at Crawford College La Lucia, where she was recognised at the most valuable player.

“The coach of that KZN side was the SA coach as well and I was called up for a national camp in September this year, in Johannesburg,” said Micaela. “We played six games and worked on fitness, moves and structure. A week after that, I was told of my selection for the SA Open women’s squad.”

While Micaela has training twice a week where she works on fitness and passing, she puts in many of her own hours, running and honing her skills.

“It keeps me busy and consistently healthy. A normal training session sees me spend about an hour on fitness and an hour-and-a-half on passing,” she said. “We have started pre-season training and I want to focus on conditioning next year. My ambition is to play and get involved in sevens, with a definite target being the 2020 Olympic Games, where I hope to represent South Africa.”

While her sport takes up most spare time out the classroom, Micaela has managed to balance her academic and sports life. “I still give plenty of attention to my studies as sport doesn’t last forever and there must be something for me to fall back on,” she said.

As for that injury, it’s a shoulder ligament displacement, picked up playing touch of course, when she dived for a loose ball and landed awkwardly.

“It comes with the turf and is to be expected in the world of rugby. Next year, I am head girl of Hillcrest High and hope through this, to inspire more girls to get involved in sport,” said Micaela. “Touch rugby especially is great fun and exercise, and is a growing sport at school level.”

Micaela’s lifestyle

• Enjoys watching sport, especially rugby.

• Spending time with family and friends is important.

• Laughing adds value to life.

• Is a “microwave mechanic” in the kitchen.

• Favourite meal is prawns, sushi and seafood.

• Has tried to learn the guitar and strummed a few chords.

• Likes music and the saxophone in particular — something jazzy is always good.

• Tries to read when she can — Hunger Games, thrillers, investigative stories.

• Comedies and thrillers are movie favourites.

• Is a Chelsea supporter.

Role models

• Tayla Kinsey: Springbok women’s rugby player.

• Thomas Hobson: her sporty cousin who grew up with her.

• Wim Groenewald: her father who was a rugby player (Eastern Province) and a 200 m and 400 m sprinter.

Future studies

Looking at sport science to be hands on and close to sport. Sitting in an office all day is a no go.


• To make the 2020 Olympic Games playing for the SA women’s sevens team.

• To play 15-a-side contact rugby at Twickenham.

Advice to youngsters

“Be ambitious and strive for your goals. Deal with any obstacles and mishaps along the way, and always believe in yourself.”

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