Women Rugby Coaches Nosipho Poswa And Laurian Johannes Taking Girls Rugby To Higher Levels In Western Province. This is their Q And A interview with ‘South African SportsWoman’ publisher, Cheryl Roberts about their passion for being involved with girls rugby.

10 Feb

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Intro

They are former Springbok players. That’s Nosipho Poswa and Laurian Johannes. They both attended and graduated from UWC where they played their club rugby. Both are teachers, teaching at schools on the Cape Flats in Cape Town. And both Nosipho and Laurian are rugby coaches for Western Province Rugby Union. They are also both born in 1984. They are pivotal volunteer rugby coaches who help to develop girls rugby in South Africa. I asked them the questions and they spoke back about their passion and love for rugby…….

Q: What attracted you to rugby coaching?

Nosipho: I saw a gap for women’s rugby coaches but the most important thing is that as a former rugby player, I wanted to give back to young women players who want to play the sport and also share the experience that I have, with them and for them to benefit.
Laurian: I always knew I wanted to coach in order to give back to the sport I love. I strive to be a lifelong learner of our beautiful game. So when I stopped playing competitively it was an automatic transition for me.

Q: What are the challenges you encounter as a woman rugby coach?

Nosipho: I would say Cheryl they are the same challenges…. as you know rugby is a male dominated sport and you have to compete with male coaches, some of them are very supportive but some they do not take us serious as coaches who can bring good results to the game.
Laurian: Exposure of the game. We face challenges from our male counterparts initially, until we speak and do the same coaching levels of the game and then they realise we are equipped with the knowledge of the game and all is good thereafter.

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Q: What makes you happy about coaching girls in rugby?

Nosipho: What makes me happy to coach girls rugby is that those kids are new to the game and they eager to play and learn. They listen to whatever instruction I give them, so that is why when I coach them. I need to be focussed and teach them the basics of the game correctly because by doing that I prepare them to be ready to play the game in the senior level setup. For me it is not difficult because I am a teacher, so when I coach them I apply all the knowledge of teaching using method and techniques of making a player to understand what it is expected to them.
Laurian: Seeing growth from grassroots level to representing our country on the international stage. I feel I’m a life coach because I care about the player holistically (the whole player) with regards to education and homelife and sport. I know my players; so its so rewarding seeing them excel at life.

Q: Tell us more about the growth and development of girls rugby in Western Province

Nosipho: At our province we are playing girls rugby festivals at City Park Stadium in Athlone every Friday in season, where all primary and high schools come together and play according to their age groups like under 14, 16 and 18. During these games we select regional teams where all girls from Langa will make a regional team and also Bellville will make another regional team. So, during these regional games, it is so easy to us to identify players who will represent WP under 16 and u18 at the Youth Week games tournament in June. Our province is also one of the provinces that was selected by SARU to be part of the Youth Training Center (YTC) program where they would employ the coach to assist the union to identify the girls talent in the communities and also in schools. This program is trying to work towards the goal of inviting all the schools, especially more private schools to partake in the game of rugby. After we are done with the Youth Week tournaments then we get busy with (YTC) program with the help of the head coach of the program trying to identify players that will represent YTC teams for the end of the season tournament.
Laurian: We do outreach programmes to introduce girls rugby at schools . Girls start playing at u13 level. Our YTC programme enhances our players development. We are a very proud province and strive for excellence when it comes to player development. Our WP juniors u16, u18 and u20 play national tournaments and YTC tournaments every year.

Q: And the secret? How do you manage to be a national girls rugby coach champion?

Nosipho: I am not really sure if I have a secret. I think I am doing things that all coaches should do. I would say its all about dedication and to be committed to your work and also trying to understand players differences, to be friendly, play a role of being a mother to them and also make jokes when its time for jokes, but when its time for hard work they will know its time for everyone to work hard. As we all know that most of the players are from different backgrounds where you would find out during training times/ days they would struggle to get transport to take them to the field and sometimes they would have no boots or shorts to train. But despite those challenges as a coach, I need to be calm and listen to each and every player and assist where I can. As I mentioned before the understanding of your players challenges is important to know. For me, I relate to their situation and I was once a player who struggled a lot but that did not make me to stop to do what I love. It just strengthens my mind and makes me stronger and be the best out of nothing.
Laurian: We are a great management team and we strive to give nothing but the best of ourselves. So we do our best all the time. Its team goals. It’s not just about me or one individual coach.

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Q: Girls rugby is played mostly by working class school girls. Are suburban and private schools not interested in playing girls rugby?

Nosipho: I won’t say yes or no because when we had registration for all rugby schools some of the representative of WP ladies rugby and also YTC administrators were also there, having their table with registration forms for all the schools that are interested to be part of WP girls rugby. This has been happening over the past years but most of the private and surburban schools haven’t shown interest.
Laurian: We have done roadshows and we are getting more of the previously model C schools to join like Groote Schuur high and Camps Bay high. We have had girls from Rustenburg as well in our squads.

Q: What more must be done by Western Province Rugby Union to further develop girls rugby in the Province?

Nosipho: I think they need to invite more schools and also speak with the principals/sports oficials in the schools and make them understand the importance of the girls to play sport. They can also allow girls to play before the main games for instance when Stormers or Varsity Cup games are playing. So that the girls can get exposure and that will also make parents, who will be watching the game, to see the seriousness of girls playing rugby. For me, I think the province needs to involve former and experienced players to assist with caoching at schools. Each school must have at least two coaches and get a stipend so that they can be motivated to come and coach the girls at school. By doing that the numbers will increase day by day as we know that teachers have less time to coach because most of the time they need to be in the classroom. Also government can assist the entire country whereby they will employ sport teachers that will focus only on sport and assist in Life Orientation that can make a difference to our future tomorrows as we know there are those learners who can read and write and love playing sport.
Laurian: Exposure of the girls rugby games and funding so girls can play more games which will aid our development and we would do better on international stages. Resources like food for after sessions because our kids come from all walks of life and sometimes they don’t even have food to eat.

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Q: Are you going to be an SA champion coach again, this year?

Nosipho: Not sure about that but there are few female coaches in the country so that gives me a big chance to be a SA champion coach again and the bonus is that I am only female coach who has more than one team. Tshotsho Mbovane was also assisting myself to coach the girls before he was appointed as a Seven institute coach. Ja will say yes to being an SA champion coach again.
Laurian: This year I will be assisting WP juniors with rugby coaching co- ordination but not coaching a team, as my role at SA rugby now is to identify talent at youth weeks.

Q: Tell us more about the talent coming out of girls rugby in Western Province

Nosipho: There is lot of talent, Cheryl. You will see on the field when we open our season with festival games. We must create the opportunities for this talent to surface.
Laurian: Some of our girls play against boys and that also helps their development. WP is blessed with incredibly talented girls that will definitely represent the country one day.

Q: SA’s senior women’s rugby ain’t world class. How far behind is SA’s girls rugby?

Nosipho: We are very far to that stage of being world class. I am saying that because there are no contracted national team players playing 5’s rugby full-time. Even us as youth coaches we are not getting paid we doing it for the love the game with the hope that one day things will change.
Laurian: South Africa has a lot of catching up to do. We must develop skills and give our girl rugby players international exposure for them to see the level of nternational play.

Q: What would you like to achieve as a girls rugby youth coach?

Nosipho: To win all our games and defend the position of being number one for Youth Week games as well as YTC games and claim position one for U18s since we lost in the finals, last year. We want more numbers to represent WP in the SA under 18 and 20 junior Springbok team.
Laurian: We want to better ourselves this year and work harder to achieve all conditioning and skills goals as well as see how our playing structures are implemented during game time.

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