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Eerste River club trains at beach

Whistling Wheels RFC, who competes in the Western Province Club Rugby Northern Regional League, have always found solutions to every challenge they face.

Recently the Eerste River club had to think out of the box with regards to their pre-season training. The club trains at the Kleinvlei sports grounds where weed on the field made training impossible. Last week, when the club heard that the field would be mowed, they made a decision to move their training session to the beach.

“It has been challenging maintaining our field due to water restrictions and where it concerns facilities, vandalism and theft is always an issue,” says Ashwell Diedericks, chairperson of Whistling Wheels.

“We ensure that at all times when we use the facilities, we do so in a respectful and responsible manner. During the 2019 season we facilitated the watering of the rugby pitch with non-potable water to try and ease the strain on the Facility Management Committee (FMC) having to make plans alone.”

Wheels have also been in ongoing talks and work very closely with the FMC of Kleinvlei sports grounds.

“As a club we regularly engage with the FMC regarding our challenges and try as far as possible to have a solution orientated approach. Co-operation from the FMC is there, we do however have challenges in terms of follow through and how quickly issues get resolved.”

Like most community-based clubs, Wheels rely heavily on community support to fund their expenses in order to keep the sport going. Faced with water restrictions, cash flow challenges, players migrating to neighbouring clubs, and much more, it has not stopped this family-orientated organisation.

“Finances is always a big challenge for the club. Attracting meaningful sponsorship for the club has always been a big mountain to climb. Without the proper meaningful backing we also struggle to keep a lot of our talent at the club. Bigger clubs with a better rugby footprint “grab” a lot of our talented players which essentially means we rebuild each year.

“The club has been developing a junior structure which is in its second year. The club will not have to rely on recruiting players during the off-season but can develop them internally. Little to no support is given from local businesses. There are a few entrepreneurs and private sponsors that we can always depend on. We engage often with businesses in Eerste River to try and build relationships.

“Our main aim is to strengthen all our structures within the club. We have a junior arm in their second year of participation and an old boys structure who also add value to the club. Our coaching structures have also been streamlined so that there is a more holistic coaching approach.”

Whistling Wheels’ mindset has had to shift due to the daily challenges that most clubs like them face, which accounts for nearly 90% of the 110 WP rugby clubs currently registered, but this hasn’t stopped Wheels from pushing forward.

“Our main goal for the year is to create an environment where players only have to worry about playing. If we get this right – our player and support base will grow without much hard work.”

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