Cape Town - While all eyes will be on the Rugby World Cup kicking off this weekend, rugby fever will be at fever pitch at Primrose Rugby Club, which is hosting the Awqaf SA Imam Haron Commemorative Youth Rugby Festival.
The tournament, which is in its third year, is held annually in association with Primrose and the Imam Abdullah Haron Foundation.
The festival has grown steadily, and this year’s edition will be expanded to more than 50 teams. The primary schools section will be in action this weekend, and the high schools on September 16 and 17.
At a launch event at the Primroses clubhouse in Kenilworth on Wednesday, club chairperson Walid Brown welcomed the old and new participating teams.
“This year, it’s going to be bigger and better. Firstly, we say welcome back to some of our friends and community clubs – to name a few, Collegians, Hamediehs, Violets, SK Walmers and Rangers.
“This year, we also welcome Vineyards Rugby Club and Elsies River. Some of the academies joining are the Allister Stoffels Sports Academy, Caradale Primary School, Fairbairn College, Sakumzi Rugby Academy, and Sport School Development Programme (SSDP),” Brown said.
He emphasised the importance of sport in giving the youth structure and discipline in their lives, and a positive alternative to social ills such as crime. Brown also noted the significance of Imam Haron’s legacy on the community and the local rugby fraternity.
“It’s no coincidence that this tournament takes place in September, Heritage Month. Rugby is part of our heritage and nobody understood that better than Imam Haron. Sadly, his martyrdom took place on September 27, 1969, when he was brutally killed by the apartheid police. His sacrifice taught us about unity. He was a lover of rugby and that is why we use his name, to continue to build positive things in the community,” Brown said.
Awqaf SA deputy CEO Mickaeel Collier reminded all that it was Imam Haron who had originally identified the land on which it stood as the home of Primrose RC, at a time when the Group Areas Act had forced communities out of the city and on to the Cape Flats.
Primroses Youth Convenor Achmat Albertus was excited about the growth and diversity of the tournament with the inclusion of the new teams. He wished the teams well and gave the captains valuable advice.
“As captains, you have a big responsibility to carry the vision and direction of your coaches and your club. While we all want to play for the trophy, let me give you this advice: the type of rugby that you play and the character that you show will take you much further and the results will come a lot easier afterwards.
“Let us not just make it about winning, let us make friends and make memories that you can look back on. In the blink of an eye, your junior rugby days will be over. You will be an old man sitting on the sidelines and reminiscing. Enjoy these moments,” he said.
Also present at the launch were speakers Imam Haron’s daughter Fatima, Mahmood Sanglay, the CEO of Muslim Views, and the Cape Argus, the festival’s media partners.
Watch the action on @awqafsa and @primroserugby on Instagram, and at https://awqafsa.org.za/