IM this article to a friend!

July 15, 2003

Deaf rugby player enjoying every minute of the game

From: SABC News, South Africa - Jul 15, 2003

He cannot hear the referees whistle, and will never hear the roar of the crowd, when he scores a try, but that does not keep young Nel Coetzee from enjoying every minute of his favourite game. Coetzee brought honour to the Western Province Craven Week-team, last week.

To his teammates he is just one of the boys. A tough player and useful in the line-out, but Nel is different. He was born totally deaf but that has never prevented him from playing the game he loves.

Last week he was one of the stars of the Western Province school team. He says he watches the body language of other players to see when the referee has blown the whistle. "With the line-outs they communicate with me through signs."

Frans van Niekerk, his coach, says it is not a problem to communicate with him because he can lip-read. "He looks around a lot and relies on his other senses on the field."

Today in a game against the England under 18 team Nel showed why he is such an outstanding player. Like any other schoolboy his only wish is to wear the green and gold jersey.

Copyright © 2000 - 2003 SABC