Worcester Warrior fans are urged to dig deep for a good cause when they travel to The Recreation Ground to watch Mike Ruddock’s men tackle Bath Rugby (kick-off 2.15pm).
During the summer recess, whilst most had escaped to exotic locations, or in the case of Bath prop David Barnes, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, Bath Rugby Media Manager Kate Oram went to South Africa to help set up a rugby club and Trust Fund in Cape Town.
Having joined forces with Georgina Stevens, mother of Bath and England prop Matt Stevens, Kate spent three weeks with a small group of players in the Cape Flats to create a rugby club ‘Vulindlela Rugby’ – and with it, some hope for the future.
Vulindlela, which means ‘open the way’ in Xhosan was initially set up by two men, with a desire to help teenagers from the suburbs of Cape Town learn to play rugby. Although the interest was high, the funds were not, so steps were taken to set up a Trust, now called ‘Vulindlela Trust Fund’ to help get the necessary equipment and financial assistance to the club, to ensure they could train safely.
“The level of hope and enthusiasm of the boys was astonishing,” admitted Kate. “There were some nights at training, when the area of grass used for training was too waterlogged to play on, so we had to use the tarmac instead. Some of the boys did not even have boots, so they just played in their socks, such was the level of their desire to play – it was inspirational.
“They currently have so little, I could go on forever detailing what they need. They share rugby boots, they don’t have adequate lighting, they have no means of transportation to and from training and have to walk through dangerous areas…the list is just endless.”
Although the venture is being supported by Bath Rugby as a whole, it is no great surprise that Matt Stevens has been keeping a close eye on the developments: “It is really good character building for young kids, especially from places like the Cape Flats” said Stevens. “In those areas they are hugely exposed to gang culture and drugs and that could have a really negative impact upon them.
“What is great about sport is that it can help people transcend social and financial barriers and help a huge amount in learning how to socialise with peers, adults and coaches. Vulindlela will have a face, it will achieve things. It is tangible. It is an easy way for people to see things improving and an easy way to see kids’ own lives improving as they are achieving.”
This Saturday, Bath Rugby will be helping support the club by having the Trust as the chosen charity for the match against Warriors. Bath players and staff, including Chief Executive Bob Calleja, will be doing the rounds with buckets in the hope of raising some money for much needed kit, equipment and training facilities