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Grass Roots Coaching and Filming
Cape Town, 22-27 February 2015

By C Brown

Flo Rossigneux, Penguin country member for France, had an idea to tell the story of grass roots rugby; to view it from the position of the children, organisers, coaches and volunteers, especially in developing nations where rugby is not that popular, and look at the people, the circumstances, the effort and how a difference is being made by people who care.

After some thought on the way forward the Penguins teamed up with SashaMills Productions and set out planning the production of a film to tell this story.

The venture culminated in a trip to Cape Town in South Africa to work with the Good Sport Trust (GST) in February 2015. The Penguins sent four experienced coaches, with different backgrounds and specialist skills, to spend a week working alongside the GST coaches.

The aim of the Good Sports Trust is to assist in unlocking the potential of South Africa by breaking the cycle of inter-generational and institutional poverty through creating a national framework which provides every child with access to the services, support and opportunities needed to develop into healthy, well balanced individuals, and in turn tackle South Africa’s greatest social challenges. Further information can be found on their website, www.goodsport.org.za.

The particular focus was on the rugby side of GST and the Penguin coaches spent a week working with the Trust’s coaches to help share coaching skills and experience, and assist at some of the sessions run for local youngsters. The Penguin team consisted of coaches Abby Wills, Flo Rossigneux, Steve Hill and Craig Brown, along with Director Roydon Turner and producer Neville Manuel.

The week started with the introductions and followed the schedule below.

Day Activity Venue
23/2/15 AM The Penguin coaches meet the local GST coaches and get their first exposure to what life for children is really like here through talking with GST coaches. Good Sports Trust, Tokai
23/2/15 PM The Penguins start their coaching in association with GST coaches. First up is helping with a the children's programme for 8 to 11 years old’s who have no rugby background or skills Grabouw
24/2/15 AM Coaches coaching coaches and coaches coaching coaches. The Penguins and 7 GST coaches share experiences and techniques. Also they are shown around WP rugby institute facilities and attend the WPRA/WP Institute game – the first game of the season. Makota Paul Roos Rugby Ground, Stellenboch
24/2/15 PM The Penguins run an initial coaching session with 6 GST coaches for 20 children in Masiphumelele Junior School. Masiphumelele School (Kommetije township) Masiphumelele, Sunnydale
25/2/15 AM The Penguins and the GST coaches run a full coaching session for the WP Academy players. The Penguins run through the drills the GST coaches will practice later in the day with the children from Musiphumelele at Noordhoek.

The Penguins divide themselves into two – a What team (Steve/Flo) and a How team (Craig/Abby). The GST coaches will rotate so they have exposure to both.
Good Sport Trust, Tokai.
25/2/15 PM Coaching session with 20 children aged 15 to 17 from Musiphumelele High School.

Skills and drills put into practice with the Penguin coaches supporting the GST coaches.

Some children showing faster progression than others, some showing great curiosity in the Penguin coaches, some children showing exceptional natural talent.
Noordhoek Grounds, 2 Main Road, Noordhoek
26/2/15 The Penguins tell the GST coaches they’d like to make some commitments (a GST coach could come with them on a tour and they will try to return next year.

…and everyone is invited to a BBQ at the end of this afternoon’s coaching session.
Good Sport Trust, Porter Estate, Tokai Rd, Tokai

  • Meeting the Good Sport Trust coaches and finding out about their involvement, and day to day life, as part of an organisation running activities for 25,000 children per week.
  • Meeting the children from Grabouw as part of the introduction to rugby session. This included 30 minutes cleaning up the space from hazards. In addition, it was pleasing to see how the girls in particular, took to rugby and confirmed they wished to continue.
  • The children from Masiphumelele Junior School challenging the Penguin coaches to a running race across their training field, in bare feet.
  • Getting to know, in more detail, the background of the Good Sport Trust coaches, and to share life and coaching stories.
  • The Western Province Academy players, who volunteered to be guinea pigs, to be coached by the Penguin coaches, who demonstrated techniques, drills and tactics in a master class for the GST coaches.
  • Visit to the Western Province rugby institute facilities at Makota Paul Roos Rugby Ground, Stellenboch. This was a profound contrast to the grassless spare ground, beside a rubbish dump, used for the session in Grabouw.

Two months after the trip the film was finished, complete with a voiceover from Martin Bayfield, BT Sports aired it three times in the UK and it was subsequently aired on the SuperSports channel in South Africa.

Thanks to Liz at Mountain View guest house for hosting us, Abu Lakay our trusty driver, and Red Petal Productions for their support.

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