Youth Training Centre targets 2 000 participants by 2020

2017-12-13 06:00

THE Eastern Province Women’s Youth Training Centre (YTC) has set its sights on increasing the number of participants in the programme to 2 000 by 2020 as it looks to grow women’s rugby in the region and make a solid contribution to national development.

The training centre, which is based at the Nelson Mandela University Missionvale campus, 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 between the ages of 14 and 18 participate in regular training sessions and matches and have access to conditioning and healthy eating plans. The other seven centres are based at the Blue Bulls, Border, Griquas, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo Blue Bulls, SWD and Western Province rugby unions.

The Eastern Province YTC kicked off in 2015 with 210 players and through its hard work and determination to recruit new young girls to the sport, the number of participants has tripled to 631 this year.

The programme operates in the Nelson Mandela Metro, Sarah Baartman and Chris Hani Districts, and hosts three field training sessions and one gym session a week. It also hosts a school league one day a week and hosts coaching clinics at schools throughout the region.

“The programme is important because it gives young girls an opportunity to participate in an organised programme and creates a pathway for them to progress to higher honours in the sport,” said coach Xola Jacobs.

“Players who are part of the programme are easily recognised due to their improved skillset and they have a good chance of being selected for the provincial side at age-group and senior level.

“This programme is vital to the development of women’s rugby in the region and the country, and we hope to see even bigger growth in the next few years.

“In line with that, we have set a personal goal to reach the 2 000 mark by 2020, and we will do our best to achieve that.”

To Jacobs’ delight, the YTC has produced a number of players who have made the step-up to higher honours in the last three years and he hopes to see many more follow in their footsteps.

“In 2015, four of our players were invited to the SA Rugby high performance camp in Paarl and eight players were invited in 2016,” he said.

“We also had eight players in the Eastern Province Senior Women’s Interprovincial team in 2017, and seven of our players were invited to the SA Rugby U/20 high performance camp, so we are making steady progress, and we believe this will continue if everyone continues to put in the hard yards on and off the field.

“In addition to this, our U/16 YTC team won the south section of the annual YTC tournament in 2015, which shows that we are on the right track,” he concluded.

Girls between the ages of 14 and 18 wishing to take up rugby and individuals in and around the Port Elizabeth area who would like to get involved in the YTC can contact the centre’s administrator, Thandiswa Nxomani, on thandiswan@sarugby.co.za.

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