Sporting talent can be found anywhere but good fortune sometimes does not favour those coming from the less privileged areas.
Henrick Martin, director of rugby at Milnerton High School, is a firm believer that coming from a disadvantaged background should not be a barrier to success.
A man who’s got an eye for talent, Martin believes his new recruit from Colorado Park, Mitchell’s Plain, Ammaar Burton, 18, is one such talent in need of the opportunity to showcase his brilliance on the rugby field.
Having taken the same approach with Bonteheuwel’s Imaad Phillips, 19, who now has a junior contract with Western Province, he says Burton, a tighthead prop, will follow in the same footsteps.
As part of his dedication to unearthing raw talent, Martin championed the Milnerton High School rugby development programme, which aims to identify talent from disadvantaged areas.
Burton caught his eye and he was quick to take him under his wing together with Phillips.
Through their rugby prowess, the two had their school year in Milnerton funded by a bursary from Bulumko Marine.
Currently finishing up their exams, the two youngsters will make their way to UWC next year where they hope to hit the ground running immediately.
With the immediate goal being that of making the Western Province team, they know and believe that the hard work they have put in will make that dream a reality very soon.
It is especially encouraging knowing that the school they attend has produced a rugby world cup winner in Damian de Allende.
Burton said he is extremely grateful for the opportunity and planned to make the best of it to not only make his life better but that of his family also.
“I’ll work hard to succeed so that I can make my family and the people who gave me the opportunity proud. Many players don’t get this opportunity so I have to grab it with both hands. I’m really crazy about rugby and I want to succeed one day and this is a good opportunity for me to become physically and mentally stronger and it will also help me become a better person not just in rugby,” said Burton.
Phillips echoed Burton’s words and also said the programme had made him work even harder than before. He is motivated by the fact that such opportunities do not come by everyday.
Martin says resources is the major obstacle for many rugby loving youngsters, which is the main reason he developed the programme, to try his level best to bring opportunities.
He says his focus with the programme is all about social responsibility with high performance outcomes. He says the boys are supported in a holistic manner that should help them lead a lifestyle that will change their lives. Despite them excelling on the rugby pitch, that is not their only aim as education is the bedrock of what they do, so tertiary education is a must for the talented teens.
“I’m just grateful that I could play a part in their rugby journey that shows a lot of promise. They both see themselves playing young guns for UWC and Western Province under-20 in the immediate future and their eyes are solidly on the big price which is to play junior Springboks in the next year or two,” said Martin.
“Resources in the communities like Bontheuwel and Mitchell’s Plain remain the biggest challenge for youngsters but if you are willing to sacrifice and work extraordinarily hard you can overcome everything in life,” he added.