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16 March 2021
Meet UWC Women’s Rugby Team Coach
Ask Aneesah Adams, UWC’s first ever female coach of the women’s rugby team, what her interests away from the field are and you’ll get a long pause before the answer arrives… “my life revolves around rugby”.

Adams tells that her love affair with the game, which keeps her busy from morning until night, began before she even started school in Somerset West where she hails from.

“It comes from my father, who loved his rugby. He took me to my first game at Newlands when I was five. It was a Springboks vs All Blacks Test, and since then I’ve been hooked,” the 24-year-old says during a gap between her duties at Belhar RFC, UWC, Western Province Rugby and SA Rugby.

Any dreams Adams had of forging her own playing career, were limited.

“A few years back there was not much of a future in women’s rugby - there weren’t any ‘starter’ women’s teams,” she laments. “I did play touch and some sevens rugby, though.”

Instead, Adams diverted her energies off the field.

“I started off as a first aider, then strength and conditioning and have continued up-skilling myself by attending World Rugby [formerly International Rugby Board, or IRB] coaching courses for 15s and sevens rugby, as well as strength and conditioning,” Adams reveals.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that she often stuck out during those courses.

“I was usually the only female attending the courses,” she says, but notes that intimidation soon gave way to confidence in her abilities.

“Fortunately, for me, I started at a young age and have built a good relationship with quite a few coaches along the way. Labeeb Levy, the Stormers’ skills and performance coach, has been a great facilitator at Western Province. So has Renfred Dazel in the sevens set-up and Paul Treu here at UWC. Going back, Shuaib Samaai and Marawaan Davids on the Strand club scene too.”

Watch Adams' story, as told to eNCA's Justin Ford here:

All told, it has placed Adams in a sound position for her job at UWC.

“We’ve started planning, but not just for the now but for the future too. We want to set up structures that has feeder schools too,” Adams says. “But, it’s safe to say, that things won’t happen overnight. Firstly, it will be about building a team with good values and morals, and the fitness levels to be competitive in every match – those are the short term goals.”

The significance of her gender is not lost on her either.

“I think it’s very important for a women’s team to have a woman as coach, somebody who understands the physical and mental challenges her players are going through. I’ve had lengthy discussions with psychologists and people in the medical field about it, and they all agree.”

As for those interests and hobbies? Try motorsports, helping out in the family screen printing business, and being a mom!

“Whenever I’m working at Western Province or SA Rugby I take my six-year-old son with, and so he knows the players so well – [Blitzbok captain, Siviwe] ‘Shakes’ Soyizwapi is his favourite player. He also loves playing; he was going to Rugbytots in Somerset West before Covid-19 struck… hopefully that will get up and running again, and I can find the time to take him!”