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Bella Italia, HHH boys are ready for you!

Seven aspiring rugby players from Hottentots-Holland High School (HHH) will be touring to Italy in March next year.

This follows an inclusion in the Vineyard Boys under-16 / 17 rugby tour consisting of 24 players. The two-week long tour to Italy will take place during the March school holidays next year from 14 to 28 March, and will see the group play six matches in five Italian cities.

Vineyard Boys under-16 / 17 rugby tour celebrates it’s 30th year of providing boys from different schools in Cape Town, with the opportunity to experience rugby on an international level. The tour is under the leadership of Eban Tucker and Lee van der Berg, who are both experienced rugby officials.

“This is a once in a life time experience for everybody,” says Chandler Smith, one of the players.

According to Smith, it has changed their perspective on the game and has encouraged them to fine tune their skills. The wing for HHH’s u-15A rugby team says that he is definitely looking to become a better version of himself. “I want to specialise in the position I play. I want to be the first option for the school’s first rugby team,” he adds nervously. Smith, is convinced that with hard work and determination, he and his six friends will reach great heights. Though it will not be the first time on a aeroplane for him, it will be the first international flight for him and the rest of the group. “We’re so happy,” exclaimed one of the boys.

The school’s u-15A rugby coach Joshua Fell, complimented the boys talent and added that he sees them jog out for the national or provincial teams one day. “They are a talented group of athletes who are going to make it far in life,” Fell explains. “They are going to achieve so much more in life.”

In a quest to relieve the financial burden, the group of parents has decided to make a joint effort in raising funds.

“I am excited for the boys as rugby brings people together,” Lionel Arnolds, told DistrictMail. Arnolds, along with the group of parents, has attempted a number of fund-raising efforts to cover the cost of the tour which amounts to R36 700 per child. These include a karaoke evening, a high tea and a raffle launch which was hosted at the weekend in partnership with Food Lover’s Market, Somerset West. In February next year, the group will host a Valentine’s ball as their final fund- raiser before the boys travel abroad.

According to Arnolds, the idea behind the formation of the fund-raising group was to assist single parents with the gathering of funds. “With the first fund- raiser, which was the karaoke evening, we struggled to get off the ground, but hard work pays off,” says Arnolds. The proud parent described the fundraising effort with the store as a remarkable experience. “Everyone was quick to help and they were the only business that responded positively to our request.

The store matched the vouchers the group of parents had purchased from them and also allowed the boys to have a tin collection in the store. Arnolds also believes the strategy the group had adopted contributed to the response of the they received from store management. “We wanted to do things differently. We are not expecting hand-outs, we asked to partner up with them and they agreed,” Arnolds explained further. The group of parents are also planning to approach other businesses, hoping that their involvement with them would spark a greater interest from the community.

Graeme Matthews, manager of Food Lover’s Market, Somerset West, commended the way in which these boys and their parents approached him when they asked for donations. “They did not expect me to just give them something. Instead, they asked for a space in our shop to sell their raffle tickets,” says Matthews. “Who could say no to these boys who have been granted such a great opportunity.”

Quizzed on what he makes of the opportunity, Arnolds, said that an opportunity of this nature would be pivotal in preparing the boys for the future, should they want to take the sport up, on a professional level.

“It is also means that they will represent their school, community and country on an international level,” says Arnolds. The Strand parent concluded the tour enables their children to explore the world and exposes them to different cultures and rugby coaching techniques, as they are going to be hosted by various clubs.

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