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Local teens in SA squad in Zim

Two teenage girls made their debut in the under-20 Springbok women’s squad last week, when they played two test matches against Zimbabwe’s under-20 women, claiming victory in both games.

Kyle-Lee Hendricks (18) and Gaamielah Joseph (17), both learners at Gordon High School, are ecstatic about their achievements, yet at the same time are grounded. They know there’s a lot more work they have to put into their game to reach their ultimate goal – that is to play for the senior Springbok women’s team and represent their country at the Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2021.

Hendricks started playing rugby only three years ago and developed her game at school in the time that followed.

“In 2016, I progressed to trials but didn’t make the cut for the Western Province under-16 girls’ squad. I worked harder and spent a lot of time improving my game and the next year I was selected,” Hendricks says.

She was again selected for the WP squad the following year and in the past girls’ Craven Week was selected for the under-20 national squad.

For Joseph the selection into the under-20 national squad was more of a natural progression. Her father is a rugby coach and, by his own admission, has been training his daughter from the age of six.

“I just love rugby,” she says, having played the sport from her days at Strand Moslem Primary School. At a later stage, she joined Strand Pioneers rugby club.

“I initially had a chance to play for the under-16 WP team at age 12, but they told me I was too young. The following year I made it to trials again and this time they gave me a chance despite my being younger than most of the other players.”

At the Craven Week, Joseph captained the under-18 WP girls’ team. “It was an achievement of goals that I had set out for myself; the other goal being selected for the under-20 national squad,” she says. “It’s been an incredible journey to reach both goals.”

Speaking of their experience travelling to Zimbabwe, the girls say it was one of their proudest moments wearing the green and gold of the national team.

“I really wanted it and when the moment finally arrived, it was a feeling of pride and excitement,” says Hendricks.

Joseph adds that donning the Springbok jersey was “an emotional moment”. “We were all different players from around the country and we really gelled well, and shared a common goal. It’s hard to describe the sense of fulfilment and it was all made better by the win,” she says.

The talented duo will participate at next month’s Youth Training Camp (YTC) Festival at Florida Park in Ravensmead.

V Another local rugby player, Donelle Snyders, who performed very well in the WP under-18 girls’ team at Craven Week, was also selected for the national under-20 women’s team, but was unable to participate as she had suffered an injury.

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