The Namibia Rugby Union’s (NRU) Get Into Rugby programme seems to be bearing fruit with at least 250 girls registered to play rugby in schools across the country.
Get Into Rugby Development Officer, Danriy du Plessis said the union is using the grassroots level to revive rugby for women since the future of the women national league is still in limbo.
“There won’t be any women league very soon because we could not convince the ladies to play, that is why we are developing at the grassroots so that when these girls finish school they will have the choice to play,” du Plessis said.
His comments come after Windhoek’s Jan Möhr Secondary School’s U-13 girls rugby side played against Rundu’s Noordgrens Secondary School U-13 girls rugby team at the Hage Geingob Stadium before the Gold Cup match between Western Suburbs and South African rugby club IMT Sishen and the Currie Cup First Division match between the Windhoek Draught Welwitschias and SWD Eagles.
Jan Möhr defeated Noordgrens 34-0.
Jan Möhr coach, Anthonie de Greeff, said he came up with the U-13 initiative with the aim to start a girl’s national league just like the boy’s momentum rugby school.
“We are a bit behind in terms of women rugby that is why we want to start at the grassroots level. We currently have between 250 and 300 girls playing rugby countrywide,” de Greeff said.
Namibia does not have a female rugby league due to a lack of interest which prompted NRU to revive women’s rugby with a ‘bottom−up’ approach by focusing on the youth.
About a decade ago, women’s rugby was functioning with a national league taking place which included teams from central, southern and coastal Namibia.
Teams like Reho Pandas from Rehoboth, Kudus from Walvis Bay, Amazon from Keetmanshoop, and Western Suburbs and Wanderers from Windhoek were actively involved in a league, but over the years, interest and participation dropped and by 2014 only two teams remained, namely Reho Pandas, and a new team from Windhoek, Phoenix.
Speaking to the Windhoek Observer this week, Noordgrens coach, Ryan Karsten, said he is disappointed in Government, in particular the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service and the Ministry of Works and Transport, for not providing general support and transport to the young women from various schools that come to play rugby in Windhoek.
Karsten said his team only arrived at 06H00 in the morning on Saturday, before their match at 13H30. He said this affected his team’s performances on the day.
“How do you expect the girls to perform if they arrived so early in the morning after driving in a bus all night? We drove at 23H00 after one private guy gave us his Iveco bus at the last minute since we were waiting for a response [from Government] but never got it.
“Still, I remain very positive that rugby amongst girls is heading in the right direction. We train five times a week at a ground that looks like a desert.
“We have lots of politicians who only talk, but do not put their words into action. You find politicians talking about the youth yet they are not investing in them. I am calling on the public, parents, the private sector and Government to invest in the youth, especially those in sport in Rundu so that we promote girls rugby here,” Karsten said.