Passionate, ambitious, courageous and persistent, are just some of the adjectives befitting Nothemba Poswa’s rise to the top of the rugby world.
Poswa,34, is a teacher and former Springbok women’s rugby player.
Born and bred in Port Elizabeth, she began playing rugby at the age of 15 in 1999, while a learner at Ndzondelelo High School in Zwide.
Women’s rugby was fairly new at the time and her school had just been introduced to the sport.
“It started out first as touch rugby, and after some time, the sport grew in popularity in other schools, and then advanced to contact rugby,” she said.
In 2002, Poswa made the first ever Eastern Cape Province women’s rugby team when she was chosen to represent the national springbok’s team.
“When I made it to the national team, people were surprised because it’s not a common thing for a girl to play rugby, let alone go the distance in the sport. Even today, when I visit home, people still remember me,”
Although she failed her matric in 2001, she persevered and continued to play rugby which scored her a scholarship to study at the University of the Western Cape.
While working, studying and playing varsity rugby, Poswa was chosen to play for Western Province as well.
“2010 was an incredible year for me, because I graduated from varsity and played in the world cup, although we lost, it was an experience to remember and a dream come true, “said Poswa.
Poswa recalled how her chosen career was often criticised because she was a girl and how that pushed her to prove everybody wrong.
For her, it was both an overwhelming and a humbling experience, because she saw herself as a role model for younger girls who come from the same disadvantaged background as her.
Her meteoric rise in the sport came crashing in 2012 due to debilitating knee injury. However, for her, it was only the beginning. She channelled her energy into books and graduated with a degree in Education in 2015.
“I started teaching at Zimasa Community School, and although I might not be able to play anymore, I still get to share my love and passion for it(rugby) by coaching young girls,” she said.
She is coaching five rugby teams from u/16s to u/18s. Two of the girls from Zimasa’s u/16 women’s rugby team were picked to play for Western Province this year. Whilst doing all of that and teaching, she manages the Western Province u/18 team.
“Teaching makes me happy and a lot of the kids I teach come from the same background as me and I get the chance to share my story with them and show them that I am living proof that it is possible,” said Poswa.
One of her other passions was writing poetry, she shared.
She is currently studying towards an honours degree in leadership and management and plans to publish a poetry anthology in IsiXhosa. Her dream is a sports academy and to see her learners, whom she encourages to write, and play sports, succeed in life.
“Sports and academics go hand-in-hand and I want these kids to know that they are both equally important, because I would not have been here, had it not been for sport and the academics has helped me to have something to fall back on after I stopped playing,” she said.
Nomathemba Poswa added that the government needs to change the(education) system to accommodate both sport and academics in schools.