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Sport
The Deaf Thunder Rugby team needs tour funding


The Western Province Deaf Thunder Rugby team is gearing up for the Stones Cup taking place in Bloemfontein from 27 March to 7 April.

The Stones Cup is a new tournament to recognize Tim Stones and is the first time this team will compete in this tournament. “We hope to be ready for the tournament but at the moment we are really struggling with funding,” says lock Francois van den Heever.

Other teams which will compete in the tournament are the Blue Bulls Deaf team and the Deaf Provincial XV team (players from Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape).

The final match will be the curtain raiser ahead of the Cheetahs vs Ospreys Guinness Pro14 fixture on Saturday 6 April at the Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein.

For the players and the coaches to attend this rugby event, a substantial amount of money and/or services which most cannot afford is needed, as there is currently no professional Deaf Rugby setup within the country. “Many of the players, say 85% of the players in the selected team cannot afford the fee of about R2 600. It may seem like a little, but for our rugby players it is a lot of money because many of them work on a farm or are dependent on social grants. We are just facilitating and we are working to make rugby possible for them,” says Western Cape Deaf Rugby Union treasurer, Hennie Koekemoer.

According to Koekemoer they had a BokSmart training course about safety in rugby, a prerequisite for participating, on Saturday 2 March. This was followed by the trials where one team was selected for the upcoming tournament.

“We feel happy and excited for the upcoming tournament and I hope we can bring the cup back home. We are working well together as a team along with all of those supporting us as a deaf rugby team. I want deaf people to feel happy and proud when it comes to playing rugby and getting opportunities. We have sent out letters but the feedback and response has not been what we had hoped for. We really hope that it will realise,” says Van Den Heever.

He says he wants people to know that they are serious about playing rugby and want to make a contribution in this regard. Anyone willing to contribute to the Western Province Deaf Thunder Rugby team’s dream of competing in the Stones Cup, can contact Koekemoer on 081 318 9328.

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