The Westerford High School U-14 rugby teammates enjoy lunch with their coaches. Picture: Supplied
Cape Town - When the boys of Westerford High School U-14 rugby team heard that their Muslim teammates would be playing on an empty stomach because they were fasting during the month of Ramadaan, they knew exactly what to do.

After head rugby coach Dave Thompson told them that the Muslim boys would not be eating or drinking during match days, the non-Muslim players unanimously came together and agreed that none of them would be drinking anything during practice or games either.

They were practising the ethos of tolerance and camaraderie instilled by their coaches, said Adiel Gallie, one of the coaches of the U-14 rugby boys' team at the Rondebosch-based high school.

“We just wanted to inform the boys about why their teammates would not be drinking anything and why these games would be more challenging for them.

“We were so overwhelmed after these boys decided that they would not be drinking anything either, but their show of respect for one another has created a much stronger sense of camaraderie and bond with their teammates.”

Last Saturday, the coaches decided to have a thank-you lunch for the boys, both to mark the end of the first half of the season and to bring the entire team together to reflect on the sacrifice the non-Muslim players made during the holy month of Ramadaan.

“We have a very diverse team; all the boys have very different personalities and we always try to teach them to respect each other and their differing religious and cultural differences," Gallie said.

“We focus on teaching them about life skills and how what they learn on the field can be applied to their everyday lives.

“They should always pick themselves up after a defeat and understand that winning isn't everything.”

He said that the boys have been playing and training together for the last few months and have developed a close brotherhood based on mutual respect and discipline of the sport.

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