Young touch rugby star a local inspiration

2018-10-02 06:00
Ayla Nuttall with her friend Shae Muchna.PHOTO: Phindile Shozi

Ayla Nuttall with her friend Shae Muchna.PHOTO: Phindile Shozi

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GROWING up as an active child, Ayla Nuttall realised her love for sport when she began playing team sports such as netball while in primary school.

“I later went on to other sports, such as touch rugby and soccer, and I believe Hillcrest High has played a fundamental role in nurturing and developing my love of and talent in sport,” she said.

Ayla is a Grade 11 pupil at Hillcrest High School and she recently represented South Africa at the U18 level at the FIT Junior World Cup Touch Rugby Tournament in Malaysia. Here the South African team won the bronze medal, behind Australia and New Zealand, after playing round robin matches against India, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand and the USA (three matches a day).

She revealed that even though she’s made it in sports, she has also come across challenges where she felt she had could not reach her potential, saying: “Sometimes when I did not achieve podium positions, I feared I could go no further and be no better. I felt as if I wasn’t good enough to continue. You can only imagine how this sets you back as an athlete as you feel as though there is no point in trying to better yourself and your abilities,” she said.

However, she said determination is what has kept her strong through all she’s been through in her sporting career: “My determination is definitely my strong point and I’ve found that when I found myself in these ‘ruts’, I found the will and determination to keep working hard, to grind harder than ever before and to strive to be the best that I could be. In doing this and persisting, I overcame these fears and accomplished things I never thought possible.”

Ayla said she couldn’t have made it without the inspiration she got from one of her greatest role models in the sporting world — Billie Jean King, a female tennis player who beat male tennis star Bobby Riggs, saying: “My role model proved that nothing, not even gender, can prohibit you from being the best that you can be,”

“From a young age, I’ve looked up to and drawn inspiration from sporting stars. I admire their hard work and talent and have always found myself wanting to be like them. I would like to be able to do the same for others that are in the position that I was in, so that they don’t feel unsure about themselves and their abilities. And of course, I do it for the pure thrill and exhilarating feeling when you know you’ve done well,” explained the pupil.

To conclude, Ayla said her message to the youth is this: “Persistence, hard work and fight is the key to success. If you want anything hard enough in life, you will find a way to fight for it and work towards it until you achieve it. I encourage the youth to reach for the stars, because even if they miss, they will be amongst the stars.”

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