UWC alumna the first female exco member of SA Rugby
UWC alumna and former Director of the University’s Sport Administration, Ilhaam Groenewald, has been elected to the Executive Council of South African Rugby – the first female to get the position.
Groenawald, Chief Director of Maties Sport at Stellenbosch University, succeeds Mr Mputumi Damani as one of two independent members of the 12-person Executive Council, and will attend their first meeting of the newly constituted Exco in Cape Town next week. The SA Rugby Executive Council is the body which reports to the General Council (made up of representatives of the 14 provincial unions) – it was constituted at the beginning of 2011 as a consequence of the merging of the old amateur and professional arms of SA Rugby.
She was elated about her election. “My passion is sport management and development, so when I was asked if I was happy to have my name put forward, I had no hesitation,” said Mrs Groenewald. “You cannot work in sports administration in the Western Cape and not know about rugby, so I have very good insight into the work that SA Rugby does. I have also received very positive support from Stellenbosch University management.”
Groenewald brings a wealth of sporting and commercial expertise to the Executive Council of SA Rugby. She has a degree in business administration and a masters degree in sports management from UWC, and has served as the director of Sport Administration at UWC for over a decade before joining Maties in 2014.
Among numerous positions she has held, Groenewald was the first woman to be chairperson of University Sports South Africa (USSA), an organisation she is the current first vice-president of; she has been head of delegation for SA teams at multisport events; she has served on the committees of the South African Sports Confederation and the Olympic Committee; she is chairperson of the Heads of Sport forum; she is a member of Varsity Sports, and a board member and a trustee of Varsity Cup rugby.
“I know SA Rugby has a very good story to tell and they are working hard to change the shape of the sport – as well as converting misplaced perceptions about it. I am excited to be joining them to offer experience and support in that process,” Groenewald commented.
“I believe I have a very good understanding of sport at the grassroots level in our country, and the challenges that are faced by our young athletes. I hope that my background as well as my experience in sports management will offer some value to the Executive Council.”