Girl Athlete Rogail Joseph Faces A Litany Of Struggles But Still Triumphs On The Athletics Track By Cheryl Roberts

24 Apr


Sportsgirl Rogail Joseph is a superbly talented athlete who shows how opportunities open the way for one to discover the your sports talent and to achieve; this despite obstacles and hardships that impact on your young life.
For 18 year old, first year University of the Western Cape student Rogail Joseph, its her belief in God, her coach, her family, athletics community, UWC athletics club that sustains her together with her commitment to train hard at athletics, the sport that has made her a South African and African youth and junior athletics champion.
Get this! Until she participated in last week’s African junior
championship in Ivory Coast, Rogail Joseph was using the same pair of spikes/track shoe that she had from when she was a schoolgirl athlete in 2016. And with these worn out spikes, Rogail went to the world under 20 championship last year, and in 2019 she has already won the
under 20 South African and African 400m hurdles titles and the SA university 400m hurdles championship, emerging as Africa’s best 400m and 100m hurdles under 20 woman athlete; all these incredible feats
being achieved in one month.
At the SA junior athletics championship in Paarl in April, South Africa’s world under 20 400m hurdles champion, Zenay van der Walt noticed Rogail’s old spikes – she had been using them since school days in Worcester – and gave her a brand new pair of track shoes.
However, it was a size too big for Rogail, and shoe she couldn’t use,
despite the good intentions of her having them. But it was passed on
to another athlete needing a track shoe at Rogail’s community athletics unit.


According to coach Booysen, a teacher at a school in Worcester and a community based athletics coach, who has been coaching Rogail since her Riverview
primary school days  ‘Rogail is a very, very talented athlete who works very, very hard at training and to achieve her goals.’
But coach Booysen and athlete Rogail, struggle to stay afloat in
athletics. Up until now, Rogail Joseph, despite not only being a
superbly talented girl, but also an internationally achieving athlete,
didn’t have a shoe nor kit sponsor, didn’t have an agent, had no
Now with healthy profiling and publicity on social media about Rogail Joseph’s 100m and 400m hurdles feats in South African and African competitions, agents and kit sponsors are making contact with the athlete and her coach. This all looks promising. But why must South Africa’s talented sportsgirls have to go through so much anxiety, struggle and stress before they can have all the necessary support to achieve tougher and higher ambitions?
About two months ago, before her 2019 athletics season amazing
athletics feats were accomplished Rogail was tired, couldn’t finish
her training sessions. Coach Booysen noticed this and knew Rogail needed a medical assessment. It was found out that her body was low on iron levels. Without medical insurance, Rogail had to wait on public medical assistance that puts you in a queue before hundreds of others.
‘Fortunately, Rogail got some money from a photo shoot she did with some German company. The money came in handy for Rogail to pay the medical costs for her medical treatment. After that, she was feeling much better, trained better and achieved remarkably’, says coach Booysen.


Rogail’s litany of struggles also include family hardships because
hers is a working class family battling the odds, struggling to
Rogail’s mother is currently at home recovering from an injury
sustained at work for the municipality. Working on the roads using a machine much too big for her body, Rogail’s mother hurt her back and hasn’t been at work. When at home at weekends from university, Rogail
helps her mother as much she can. The talented athlete is very
family-centered. She turned down three athletics scholarships to the
USA so she could be at home in the Western Cape to help where she can her parents and three siblings.
Despite, the odds at time stacked against her, Rogail still turns up
at training daily. At university of the Western Cape, she trains
without her Worcester-based coach but gets back home to Worcester every weekend to train with coach Booysen.
This weekend Rogail is running in the SA senior athletics championship in Germiston. She needs her coach to be with her but he couldn’t afford the costs to travel. However, athlete parents in coach Booysen’s community athletics unit insisted he go to the senior championship and they made it possible for him to travel the long journey by bus from
Worcester to Johannesburg and stay with an athletics comrade.
‘My coach and my parents, especially my mother, really try hard to keep me in athletics. And its really hard on them with all the costs.
I appreciate their efforts so much’, says Rogail before she tells you
about all the titles and medals she has won.
Rogail Joseph is already running the 400m hurdles in under one minute. This year’s ambition beween coach and athlete was to race it in under 58 seconds. She not only achieved the time, improved her personal
bests but also won the SA and African under 20 400m hurdles titles.
Coach Booysen doesn’t want Rogail to over-race and burn out. She’s a
junior continental champion in both the 100m and 400m hurdles. And her racing schedule and prowess must be managed properly with qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics being an ultimate objective of the teenage athlete and her coach.
After the SA senior national athletics championship, it’s preparation for the world student games in Italy where she could possibly become world student champion. But in between, coach Booysen would like Rogail to run in some meets in Europe. For this, she needs financial assistance and for now this isn’t there. Last year Rogail didn’t get quality international experience because she didn’t have the money to run in Europe and hence wasn’t adequately prepared for the world under 20 championship.
The talent has surfaced, the athlete is performing. The community
coach is giving his all to develop one of South Africa’s finest
athletics talents. Her family life is faced with struggle upon
struggle. But the teenage girl athlete is determined to know and
develop her best athletics potential. Yet again, 18 year old Rogail Joseph’s incredible athletics feats and sports talent highlight the urgent need for SA to have a national priority fund to jassist SA’s working class girls in sport.
There’s no denying that much more opportunities have been created for working class and township youth to be involved in sport in post-apartheid South Africa. But the talented girls need a national fund to assist their further progress and advance in sport.

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