DESPITE playing well in the u-13 Eastern Province sides at Craven Week in years past, former Dambuza Primary School pupils and rugby players and are not given the same opportunities to progress as those from more privileged areas, according to principal Madoda Ngece.
“This is not a matter of sour grapes,” Ngece said. “These players are of good quality and, with the right training, should be able to compete at far higher levels in the sport.
“It seems that, once they have played at Craven week they are forgotten by the (provincial) department of sport, and there is no future for them.”
STAR PLAYER: Dambuza school principal Madoda Ngece (left) with one of his star rugby players, Simbongile Payi who he says, despite playing in Craven Week cup competition, has not been afforded the same opportunities as other, more privileged players Picture: ROB KNOWLES
Ngece singled out two of his former pupils, Simbogile Payi (19) and Thandolwethu Ntontela (20), as players with potential who played u-13 rugby at the annual Craven Week rugby tournament some years back.
“I feel very worried,” Ngece said. “His (Payi’s) colleagues are now playing at upper levels in rugby while his is ignored. It seems that if you do not come from a (former) model C school there is no future for you in the sport. We need to select players on talent, not colour, the area where they live or how rich their parents are.”
Payi now attends Numzamo High School in Nemato and Ntontela has left school and is currently unemployed.
“In the case of Thandolwethu who was not strong academically but a great player, this is the end of his rugby career as there are few clubs, if any, he can attend in the area. It is really sad that my boys are not given the opportunities other players are,” said Ngece.
“I humbly request the provincial sports department to give follow-ups to these players, and a chance to try-out at u-20 level.”
In the meantime Ngece is preparing his u-13 players for the upcoming Frans Erasmus tournament next month, organised by Grahamstown’s PJ Olivier High School, as well prepping his boys for rugby trials at Port Alfred High School, also to be held in March. He asked that, if anyone would like to sponsor his players they can contact him 078-087-0319.