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In my lengthy career as a swimmer, I have played both roles of the athlete and the coach. As I think most people would agree, coaching young children in sport is not always the easiest job. In addition to that, teaching young children how to play a sport I’ve never played in my life is an entirely different challenge.

Before coming to South Africa, I was familiar with the game of rugby but didn’t know much of anything about mechanics, rules, positions, and the like. So when my ACE teammates and I learned that we would be helping with the rugby portion of the sports camp we were at a slight loss of what exactly to teach these kids. I spent the majority of the first night reading up on the rules and looking up drills for the next day. The following morning we headed over to the field with our equipment not entirely sure what to expect. We explained the rules to the best of our ability and the first scrimmage was a little rough. The longer we played the smoother it went and the more fun we had. A lot of the kids had played rugby before but those who hadn’t were learning with us. As the week progressed and we got to know the kids, the lessons became more enjoyable and productive. I can say I’ve learned as much as the kids have this past week.

“I can say I’ve learned as much as the kids have this past week.”

We had the opportunity to attend a match between the Stormers, a South African club, and the Sunwolves, a Japanese club. The electricity given off by the fans was reminiscent of American football games, and I found myself getting really into it. The rainbow nation showed its diverse colors at this game seeing that people of every color was cheering and enjoying the sport. Rugby is a game enjoyed by many South Africans and they take much pride in their teams. This is also evident in the kids in the township as I see many of them wearing Springboks (the South African national team) jerseys and gear every day. Rugby is a high-octane sport that I’ve come to greatly enjoy and am very grateful to have the opportunity to be teaching, despite having never played before.

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