Young Rwandan refugee Fabrice Nahimana has become a rugby prodigy with infinite promise since his arrival in Cape Town.
The Nahimana family fled to South Africa due to the political unrest in Rwanda and upon their arrival on local shores in 2009, the youngster recalls that he couldn’t speak English and had never before heard of rugby as a sport.
Now six years later, the 16-year-old harbours hopes of becoming a professional rugby player after drawing attention from some of the leading Cape schools as well as the Western Province Rugby Union’s junior scouts.
‘My first few years in South Africa were quite challenging. I was suddenly exposed to a different culture. I also had to learn English while trying to find my feet and make new friends. It was really tough and particularly so because I had to start making these adjustments while I was just 10 years old,’ Nahimana said.
‘The fact that I had not touched a rugby ball or even heard of the game did not help either,’ he admitted.
In 2010 Nahimana enrolled at Yesterplaat Primary in Brooklyn, and it is here where he met Campbell McGraw, who runs a rugby academy aimed at keeping school kids active and off the streets.
‘It was at Atlantic Rugby Academy that I learned how rugby can be a powerful asset in transforming one’s life,’ explained Nahimana.
‘I had to overcome a lot of obstacles in order to stay on top of my game and keep up with my teammates. I didn’t always have enough food to eat and when I had food, it wasn’t always rich in the vitamins and minerals I needed to maintain optimal physical performance,’ he adds. ‘I basically had to be more resilient and much more hard working than my peers in order to survive, be it in the classroom or on the pitch.’
But as the academy rose to prominence, so too did Nahimana’s on-field influence and it wasn’t long before he started getting offers to attend several elite rugby playing high schools. Nahimana eventually decided to attend SACS from 2015 onwards, a decision he feels is bearing fruit now.
Over the past two years, he played for the U15 A and U16 A sides respectively, was part of WP’s U16 Grant Khomo Week team and is in the SACS 1st XV squad for the 2017 season.
‘In retrospect, I have no doubt that I could not have made a better choice. SACS has proved to be the best thing that could have ever happened to me,’ proclaimed Nahimana.
Nahimana has his sights set on competing at the highest level in the near future and a strong performance this season could be the springboard for his career.