That somewhat overused proverbial phrase about life, lemons and lemonade has just been given something of a boost with the end product being sparkling lemonade.
The pervasive presence of Covid-19 has wreaked havoc in our lives, none of us unaffected by this blight, and sport, especially the amateur variety, has borne the massive brunt of protective measures. While the reasons behind the cancellation of amateur sport are obvious and sound, the irony is that activity and participation goes a long way to equipping participants to handle the frustrations of isolation.
At False Bay RFC there are three heart-warming examples of the determination of the players and management to squeeze the juice from lemons, adding their own brand of sparkle as they go along.
The False Bay women’s side, under the guidance of coach Zoe Naude and assistant Greg Andrews, are the flag bearers of this movement. Having started from scratch at the beginning of 2020, Naude and her burgeoning group of players put in the hours to develop their skills and fitness, only to have it dashed with the cancellation of sport last year. Disappointment dealt with, the players kept active and got together as a group as soon as they were allowed to, focusing on the prize of some game time, at that stage a lofty pipe dream.
As this year progressed, with new variants causing further cautious abstentions from contact sport, the now totally hooked group of young athletes were raring to go, their numbers swelled by younger players which enabled junior coaches, Jarrod Buchanan and Juan Sargeant, to field two teams at a Sevens tournament at NTK in Parow on Friday night, returning home with a four out of four win record for the night.
The excitement and focus was on the senior women’s squad which hosted Stellenbosch University at Constantia on Saturday. Their first outing as a squad since inauguration, the Bay were nervously excited at the pre-match jersey handover. Match proceedings on the day were in the form of four seven minutes per half matches, taxing on any player with limited match play.
Maties, coached by Johann Zeier, had a larger, more experienced squad, but the atmosphere was friendly encased in an armour of competitiveness. He too has an obvious commitment to his squad and the development of the game which lent to the spectacle and left those enthusing about future roll-out of the game, such as roving match days at various club venues to harness this developing aspect of the club game.
As the players took to the pitch there was an obvious air of excitement, mixed with a modicum of trepidation of a myriad what-ifs. What if this was a total runaway for the more established Maties? What if the Bay were overawed by the occasion, freezing like deer in the headlights?
Maties opened the scoring within a minute of the first match and the latter appeared to be the case. Was it to be a 14-minute massacre?
The opening match, as with all four, was won by Maties, but it demonstrated False Bay’s capacity to compete, that the foundation was sound and that the future looked bright. Maties were full value for their victories, but there was no playful toying with the opponents, like a cat with a frantic mouse. Contact was hard, passing skills sound, angle-running was industrious and entertainment value was high.
A thoroughly enjoyable day of Sevens rugby; a wonderful introduction of the newest arm of the False Bay structure. There is a bright future ahead of this segment of the club game.
Round two of sparkling lemonade belongs to the men’s division. As with the women’s group, False Bay’s director of rugby, Johnno van der Walt and his club management panel worked hard at maintaining player interest and commitment in the hope of a late, abbreviated season, which was unfortunately not to be as other clubs battled to maintain numbers and interest without prospect of return on investment and there was great disappointment when all home of any form of a league was lost.
Club captain Henri Waite tabled the concept of an Internal League of False Bay Tens and along with First XV skipper, Thabo Ncongo, fleshed out an exciting tournament which involves all levels of player, from the First XV to the fourth and fifth teams and under-20s. Over eighty Covid-19 compliant players registered and an American NFL style player draft, held a fortnight ago.
The Bay Tens kicks off on Thursday September 30.
• Jon Harris is a member of False Bay RFC.