Growth. That was the focus for the last quarter. Our Club was full swing into the season proper by October. For me, the beginning of the season is always exciting. It is a time for players to show their worth within their teams and for Coaches to see the calibre of our opponents. Also, the starting XV team lists get tested as players compete for positions and for game time.
Our core 20 players for the Ereklasse team oscillated with injuries that kept them from fully participating in the 1e fase. Injuries are anticipated in our overall approach to the season but something you wish you do not have to deal with. The injuries plagued, more often than not, our senior players. It is a privilege watching the senior boys taking leadership on the field, playing great footy and reminding spectators why they deserve to be on the team. I affectionately call these senior players, ‘Generation Joey’. An impressive group of talented men who have played together for many, many, years. So, when one of the ‘Generation Joey’ is injured we have to look into our stock of young players to fill the gaps.
Oemoemenoe does not have a big player pool or depth in the reserves, but the boys I have relied upon thus far to play Ereklasse, have played with determination and courage. One hundred percent! An unprecedented nine players from our Feeder team have reserved in Ereklasse during this reporting period. Their participation gave them important growth time on the green but also much needed experience in a higher class. I’m really proud of their development.
Going into the Christmas break, our Ereklasse team sat comfortably on third place in the Trophy Pool. Two losses and three wins under our belts.
The Feeder team have continued to surpass all expectations. Playing numbers have been typically low but the results have been a pleasant surprise for me as a player/coach. We had a clean sweep through the 1e fase. Then we headed into the Christmas break unbeaten and expecting to make the Promotion pool in the New Year. It has also been a grand experience having our old boys taking the field along side our future players. Harry Pool, Henk, Harry Van Helsland and Joep have all left memorable impressions on me as they continue to contribute to our Club as players. I am a firm believer that rugby is for everyone regardless of age or ability. I am proud that Oemoemenoe can still offer a pathway for our old boys to enjoy the game. Maybe our next step is putting a team into the old boys’ competition?
Outside of Heren rugby, I have had time to watch a game or two for the Dames, Colts, Juniors and Cubs. When my day job permits, I can also observe and help with Tuesdays trainings for the Juniors and Colts. It is good to see the numbers are steady for each team and the skill level is near appropriate for their grades. It is especially encouraging to see some of our Academy players incorporating Academy taught skills into their games. Speaking of Academy, it is a very satisfying coaching experience for me. Mel and I have had atleast ten Academy sessions with our up and coming youth. We spend a lot of time on micro skills and raising their awareness of tactical plays. Recently, the weather has been a bit wet and seeing our young players giving the session one hundred percent commitment in the rain is amazing. Lastly, the clinics have been quiet during this reporting period. Our major achievement for this timeframe is hosting a touch tournament for CSW. An action–packed morning for over 100 students. This was the second tournament I had been a part of, and the enthusiasm and competitiveness of the students made for an epic event. I acknowledge the volunteers for the day Inge Hartingsveld, Bart Klemann and Andi. Without them, it would have been impossible to run a successful tournament. We were also fortunate to have another member of the Oemie family, Laurent, to help referee in between his busy schedule.
Encouraging growth of our players from Oemoemenoe Youth through to our Senior Heren is vital for the sustainability of our Club. The challenge is quite an undertaking but witnessing firsthand the changes in individual skill and team culture makes for an extremely rewarding role. I look forward to the business end of the season over the next quarter.