Soweto Rugby School Academy changing perceptions about the sport

A group of girls from Letsibogo Girls High School have formed a rugby team. They practice on an open soccer field./KABELO MOKOENA
A group of girls from Letsibogo Girls High School have formed a rugby team. They practice on an open soccer field./KABELO MOKOENA

It was in 2016 when a vision came to Chris Litau to do something to grow a culture of rugby in the biggest township in the country, and so Soweto Rugby School Academy was born.

As an enthusiast and a semi-professional player, Litau wanted the youth in Soweto to have more options in sport other than football.

The most famous township in the world is not traditionally renowned for producing stars in the sport.

"It is the passion for the sport that pushed me to do something for my community. So we took it upon ourselves to change this reality," Litau said.

"We find that there are many misconceptions about rugby from our people here in Soweto and many other places. Slowly we are changing the mindset of the people but there is a long way to go."

The academy provides supplementary classes in mathematics and physical science to pupils from schools around the township on top of the extramural activities.

The 31-year-old Litau and his partners Thando Ndaba and Jama Ntengo have been recognised for their work as the academy has been invited to take part in a festival in Portugal in April.

They are raising funds so that their boys and girls under-13, U-18 and U-19 teams can go on the trip.

"We are calling on those who can assist with funding to help us make this a reality for the kids," the flanker said.

Litau saw it as an anomaly that it was townships in the Eastern and Western Cape that were producing Springbok stars.

"In the more rural areas there are many open fields where kids can run around and play the sport."

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