Willemse joins war on drugs

Springbok rugby star Ashwin Willemse is partnering Sasol and the South African National Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse (Sanca) in the fight against alcohol and drug abuse among school children.

About 13000 pupils from 10 Gauteng secondary schools are being targeted in this drug awareness campaign.

Teachers at these schools will be trained to help address the sensitive issues of drug and alcohol abuse in the school system.

Coming from a background of violence and gangs, Willemse had little hope to remedy his life.

"The turning point in my life was when Springbok wing Breyton Paulse came to my school to talk to us. I had the opportunity of shaking his hand and thought to myself that this is what I want to be like some day," he said.

Willemse is one of South Africa's most talented young athletes.

In 2001, at the age of 19, he began playing as a wing in the South African national under-21 rugby team and went on to help the team to win the under-21 Rugby World Cup in 2002.

He became a Springbok and has been playing for South Africa since 2003, winning numerous awards including South Africa's Player of the Year in 2003, Players' Player of the Year 2003 and Most Promising Player in the same year.

"I am ready to share my story, and I hope that it will touch and save the lives of youngsters who are directly and indirectly affected by drug abuse and violence in our communities."

The targeted schools are:

l Ennerdale Secondary;

l Northcliff High School;

l Eldorado Park Secondary;

l St Stithians Boys College;

l Westridge High School;

l Forrest High School;

l Kliptown Secondary;

l Westbury Secondary;

l Randfontein High School; and

l Krugersdorp High School.- Sowetan