By Masilo Malakwane
QWAQWA – The Eastern Free State Rugby joint tournament seeks to produce top players that will excel in the national team when given the opportunity.
The tournament organisers launched the competition last Saturday with the aim of inspiring African youths to showcase their untapped talents.
The competition was divided into two categories, with teams from QwaQwa, Harrismith, Kestell and Bethlehem contesting vying for the honours of becoming the best team in the Eastern Free State.
QwaQwa Rugby Club coach, Kenneth Tshabalala, told The Guard that the main purpose of organising this competition was to unearth young talent with the potential to become future stars, notwithstanding skin colour or socio-economic background.
“Although public schools do not show interest in rugby, we still find players with exceptional potential there, regardless of the colour of their skin or background.
“The beauty of this tournament is that players get to represent their towns with pride. We’re doing it for the community without any sponsorship or financial support because we love it here,” Tshabalala said.
Bethlehem Zebras captain, Lethole Mokoena (26), who started out playing football but switched to rugby after he went to a model C school, encourages youngsters to get involved in rugby.
“If we get more young people involved in sport, it would boost rugby development, especially in the rural areas. Direct financial support can support this cause. The province will be able to produce more talented youngsters like it did with Seabelo Senatla who had to move to the Western Cape to make his dream come true,” Mokoena said.
Katleho Motaung of QwaQwa Rugby Club recalled his early days as a rugby player in 2014. “There were many depressing challenges and detractors, but now everything has fallen into place.”
The leader of Dikwankwetla Party of South Africa, Moeketsi Lebesa, was one of the high profile spectators who braved the chilly weather to show support to the tournament at Phuthaditjhaba Stadium.
The results of the tournament were as follows: Bethlehem (T4) 26:0 Harrismith; Qwaqwa (T3) 19:7(T1).