BY EMMANUEL EKENE OKERE
First-year BCom student, Corné Weilbach, received his first call up for the Junior Springboks on Friday 28 May. The good news was brought to Weilbach by coach Bafana Nhleko. Now, the young man in maroon will be camping at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport (SAS) to prepare for the Junior Springboks side.
SAS is home to a host of elite athletes, which now includes Weilbach. Weilbach affirms that SAS is a world-class sports academy which attracts different sports teams from all over the world.
“They have excellent facilities and the food is great,” he said.
While reflecting on his journey into rugby and the news of his call up, Weilbach could not contain his delight. He says that he cannot describe the excitement he felt when he received the news. According to Weilbach, coach Nhleko told him at exactly 07:00 on that Friday.
“It meant the world to me. I started playing rugby in grade 8 as a loose head and debuted for [the] Paul Roos junior team in grade 10. I was [then] selected for the Western Province (WP) Grant Khomo team. From there on, it has been hard work all the way and I am grateful for the opportunity to represent my country,” he said.
While playing for the Maties side, he suffered an injury early on in the preparation season for Varsity Cup. His opportunities to play for Maties became limited.
“The practice rounds I had with the varsity squad were, however, absolutely fantastic,” he added.
Weilbach said that the Maties side is a fantastic team with committed players and team spirit. He hopes that he has the opportunity to play many games for this team in the years to come. For now, he is looking forward to the upcoming U20 International Series.
The past year has taken its toll, and nobody was left unaffected. Weilbach, and others in the sports community, have had to face challenges.
“I only had one rugby match in the entire year. Staying fit meant improvising, as gyms were closed and everyone was on lockdown. I had to build a gym in our backyard. I really missed the game and was excited about the opportunities in 2021,” he said.
Weilbach supports Maties at club level and his rugby icons are Duane Vermeulen and Steven Kitshoff. “I like their physicality,” he remarks.
Weilbach hopes to grow as a player in the beautiful game of rugby. In the years to come, he dreams of being a contender for a spot in the Stormers side. He also hopes that a spot in the senior Boks team is in the cards for him.
Weilbach believes that one can reach for the stars if you work hard enough and consistently make the right choices. Watch this space, fellow Maties!