One-hundred-and-fifty South African schoolboys and girls from 84 schools were put through testing stations during The Showcase’s live combine in Cape Town last week.
The Showcase concept was born during the Covid-19 lockdown, which prevented boys and girls from playing sport for both school and representative teams in 2020.
The concept is based on the USA’s sports combine, an event held by professional leagues to evaluate prospective players, and attended by virtually every talent scout.
Nearly 1,000 rugby and netball players between the ages of 12 and 19 entered Phase 1 of The Showcase, a digital sports combine. Over a 10-week period, they were required to complete a combination of sport-specific conditioning drills to determine their speed, strength, explosiveness, agility and skill level.
‘Phase 1 of The Showcase was a lifesaver for my daughter during lockdown,’ says Amanda van der Westhuizen. ‘For her, it was the difference between meaning something and meaning nothing. Achieving small goals daily, in a difficult time, was so encouraging.’
The top 150 athletes from Phase 1 were invited to Phase 2, a live combine at the Western Province Cricket Club. They were divided into three age groups (U12-U13, U14-U15 and U16-U18) and put through 11 testing stations designed by Old School Group, ETA College and the National Performance Register (NPR).
The physical, athletic and sport-specific drills included sprint and shuttle runs, a T-Test agility drill, medicine ball throws, pull-ups, vertical jumps, broad jumps, push-ups, sit-ups and a bronco endurance run.
More than 15,000 data-points were captured for these athletes by the NPR during the event.
‘We truly believe this is the start of a movement to educate and prepare kids on the importance of all-round athletic ability in speed, agility and strength in order to excel in their sport,’ says Gerhardi Odendaal, CEO of the Old School Group and founder of The Showcase.
The rugby boys and girls also took on three Shadowball challenges, involving a uniquely shaped rugby ball that allows players to practise their passing on their own against a wall target. Using a Shadowball, players can make up to 300 passes in 10 minutes, compared to 100 passes that a professional rugby player would typically make while practising with a normal ball.
At The Showcase, players had to stand 2m from the wall target and complete as many sets of each exercise as possible in 30 seconds.
In the first challenge, players were required to pass the ball at the wall target, complete a 360-degree spin, and catch the ball again. In the second, they had to kick the ball into the wall target, alternating feet on each kick, left and right, while the third required them to alternate between left and right passes.
‘The Showcase was a great experience and a day to remember,’ says Shiniqwa Lamprecht, a female rugby player from Pretoria. ’The boys and girls were able to display their talents, and get some reward for their hard work and dedication.’
After a successful Phase 2, The Showcase will conclude with a weekend school sports festival, once Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted. Team-based rugby and netball matches will be played in a shortened format designed to showcase players’ skills and ability.
By Simon Borchardt | www.rugbyrocks.com