Even a string of injuries has not been enough to keep a determined Hanover Park teenager off the rugby field.
Donelle Roberts, 17, took up the game three years ago as a way to deal with his anger and soon fell in love with it.
Now the lock and five of his teammates from Primrose Rugby Football have been chosen to take part in Southern Cape Sports Tour to New Zealand in September.
The Alexander Sinton High School Grade 11 pupil started playing for his school team, then joined Caledonian Roses and was invited to play for Primrose.
“I love everything about the sport – the contact, the way it makes me feel. It improves my mental and physical strength and allows me to face challenges head on. It has also improved my leadership qualities,” said Donelle.
The physically demanding game has also taken a toll on his body and just three weeks ago he dislocated his knee. Last year he broke a thumb and dislocated a middle finger, but this has not put him off and he makes time to play.
“I try to balance rugby and schooling because I know that schooling is very important. I train thrice a week and I make sure that my homework is done before that and afterwards I sit with my books for an hour everyday,” he said.
His father Cedric Roberts is proud of him and ecstatic about the opportunity for Donelle to play overseas as this was what the young man had been dreaming of.
Mr Roberts does, however, worry about Donelle’s injuries and admits he sometimes hopes that he would stop playing rugby.
“I am a soccer player so I’ve always wanted my sons to play soccer but both of them are into rugby. We often go to the stadiums to watch a game. The trip costs a lot but he knows that we will always be there to support him. I attend all his games, he is very talented but he knows that his education comes first – you have to have a plan A and B,” said Mr Roberts.
Donelle said he would like to become a professional rugby player one day and said anyone who has a passion for the sport should never give up and keep motivated. “Rugby encourages me to do better and makes me stronger. This trip is a dream come true,” he said.
Donelle and his teammates will leave for Christchurch, New Zealand, on Sunday September 23 and the two-week trip will cost each of them R45 000.
If you would like to contribute to Donelle’s trip, call Mr Roberts on 064 250 0297.