How disgusting is this? Injured Women Springbok Captain Nolusindiso Booi Must Pay For Her Surgery By Cheryl Roberts

16 Apr



Playing at the top of her game in the twilight years of her rugby life with her sentimental ambition still set on playing in another women’s rugby world cup, South Africa’s women’s Springbok captain Nolusindiso Booi has been issued the disappointing news she will have to undergo surgery and be out of playing rugby this season.

Attained whilst involved in club rugby for her women’s rugby team Tygerberg, the injury couldn’t have arrived at a more ‘unwelcome’ time. As one of South Africa’s few very experienced women rugby internationals, having played in two wold cups, Nolusindiso Booi’s influential experience is very much needed and can’t be done without, especially at this juncture as SA is now playing inernational women’s rugby again after a self-imposed moratorium.

Nolusindiso Booi started playing in rugby whilst living in the Eastern Cape. She went on to represent Border women’s rugby and South Africa and played in the SA championship winning teams of Border. Last year, she turned out for Western Province after moving to Cape Town to sudy.

When I contacted Nolusindiso Booi to follow up on an earlier interview, she had already checked into Groote Schuur hospital in Cape Town. Fortunately there were no beds available so she was granted her own ward room at a government hospital. Another patient thought he recognised her. When they got talking the patient was shocked to hear it was the women’s Springbok captain, said how he expected her to be having private medical care.

I was also shocked to know that a South African international woman rugby player had to sort herself out medically, when it became known that she would need surgery on an injured foot. SA Rugby did assist the player with her earlier medical needs such as a scan and medical assessment and they kept in touch with medical practioners assessing Nolusindiso Booi’s injury, at the cost to SA Rugby. But when it came to the point of surgery, SA Rugby said they couldn’t assist nor pay for her surgery, although it was caused from playing rugby and she was an international player. SA Rugby suggested the club had to pay the surgery bill.

And where does a black woman in sport, studying full-time and with no employment payment not even from rugby, playing for a community-based rugby club get money to finance a medical bill? And where does a community club like Cape Flats-based Tygerberg get a medical insurance to protect all its rugby players?

Because the injury was threatening, Nolusindiso Booi had to choose to ptotect herself and went to Groote Schuur where, fortunately the same surgeon who assessed and diagnosed her injury for SA Rugby at the clinic in Stellenbosch, was at Groote Schuur’s private section. On Monday, Nolusindiso Booi went to Groote Schoor public hospital and was admitted to be prepared for surgery 24 hours later.

Nolusindiso was devastated with the assessment and medical prognosis saying she would actually be out of rugby for some months with her foot having to be in a cask for 6 weeks, then a moon boot, then rehabilitation.

‘I had to do the surgery; it couldn’t be prolonged as it was going to impact on my ability to walk’, says Nolusindiso. ‘I was devastated when the surgeon said surgery was needed and that I wouldn’t be able to play rugby for some months. But I’m calm now, having accepted I must go thru this process to be injury-free.’

Retirement from rugby hasn’t come into Nolusindiso’s mind and heart for now. She wants to undergo the surgery and rehabiliate properly and then resume light raining again. Deep in her heart Nolusindiso Booi knows she still wants to play the sport she loves and hopefully still play some international matches, although she also understands that the young women rugby players all over South Africa are plentiful and talented. She dearly wants to play in another women’s rugby world cup which will be her third world cup should it happen but she also knows that her rugby stuff and body might have other plans not to be friends.

Ofcourse, we want to ask SA Rugby why is there no full medical benefits in place for South Africa’s international women rugby players? Why are health needs of men rugby players considered important and looked after but the women rugby players don’t get all the help they need? And how can the moneyed, rich, corporate funded SA Rugby have the audacity to say a comunity, grassroots club from the Cape Flats must assist their club players when they know that community rugby clubs struggle to stay afloat?

With international competitions planned for the women Springboks in August, September and later in the year, the captaincy of Nolusindiso Booi will be missed by the women Springboks. SA Rugby can immediately start planning how to implement medical insurance schemes for its national and international players so they are adequately looked after, supported and protected during injury just like SA Rugby protects its men rugby players

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