- Young sports leaders from Bishop’s Stortford travel to Potchefstroom
- School link includes coaching clinic with England players
Photo: RFU Archive
Four teenaged school students from Bishop’s Stortford in Hertfordshire took part in a trip of a lifetime recently, to coach rugby in a township in South Africa as part of the Rugby Football Union’s commitment to develop the game and to bring the community game closer to the senior team players.
The quartet of Young Sports Leaders – two boys, two girls from Year 9 in Birchwood High School – spent a week visiting Seiphemolo secondary school in the Ikageng township near Potchefstroom.
The trip was funded by the RFU and it continues a three-year link between the two schools that was forged by the London Olympics 2012’s international legacy programme entitled ‘International Inspiration’.
John Clarke, Bailey Parker, Emily Tranter and Madelin Griffin were chosen for their outstanding voluntary work at local primary schools around Bishop’s Stortford.
During their visit to Seiphemolo, a school which has meagre sports facilities situated in a township with a predominantly black and Asian population, they linked up with star players from the England Rugby team, who were touring South Africa, to coach rugby in Potchefstroom.
The aim of the visit was to leave a lasting legacy with the capability for Seiphemolo to keep playing rugby, and build on the link between the two schools that has seen students and teachers from South Africa visiting Bishop’s Stortford in return.
Photo: RFU Archive
Student Emily Tranter said: "I was extremely pleased to be told that I was one of four students from Birchwood High School to go to South Africa and help encourage sport, in particular Rugby. I don’t think that anything I could do would be able to prepare me for what I would experience when I was out there.
"When we went into primary schools I was completely taken aback by the number of children who were eager to play some rugby. It was a very humbling experience. It was a difficult task to try and think up drills for about 50-60 children to do on the spot, who did not understand English, but they seemed to be enjoying themselves regardless.
"We started off playing little rugby drills to get warmed up before going into two games of tag rugby and then eventually one big game. I was surprised to see how quickly they were able to pick up the rules and simple tactics of the game.
"The experience as a whole is one that I am never going to forget and it has made me grateful for the things that we have living in this country."