Photo: Nardus Engelbrecht.
Date: 23 February 2019 By:
Fifteen-year-old Koben Hofmeyr’s story of spiritual triumph over tragedy has been told in a moving and inspiring photographic and videographic documentary, spearheaded by The Players’ Fund and sponsored by Canon South Africa.
The Players’ Fund Project Hero, through which the stories of five rugby heroes are being told, offers hope to former rugby players whose lives have been forever changed by serious injuries on the field. Canon SA provided funding support for the project and has sponsored the camera and video equipment for the filming of these documentaries. The stories are being captured by well-known photographer Nardus Engelbrecht and acclaimed videographer Halden Krog.
On 19 May 2018, in Bela-Bela, Koben ran onto the rugby field for his school, Hoërskool Louis Trichardt. He was a popular and respected captain, playing inside centre and identified by those close to him as “always fit and well prepared” and known as “an intelligent player”. In the second half of the match, Koben lined up his opponent for a tackle, as he had done so many times before. On impact, he felt the player's hip hit his neck, heard a cracking sound and he fell to the ground. He immediately felt pain, pins and needles and realised that he could not stand up.That he was seriously injured and required urgent medical attention became apparent very quickly.
Whilst this tragic scenario could be viewed as a nightmare for most, Koben and his family have grown even stronger since this accident and are thankful for what they deem to be blessings from God.
His parents are in awe of the progress that Koben has made during his rehabilitation and are grateful for the wonderful support they have received from Koben’s school, their community and that of the wider rugby and friendship circles.
When Koben ran onto the field in May last year, he did so with a team behind him. Now on his road to recovery, a team approach is also being adopted. His immediate support base has been joined by the Chris Burger Petro Jackson Players’ Fund, who partners with Koben and his family, as they have done with a further 107 former rugby players in South Africa who are in similar situations.
The fund helps rugby players who have been seriously injured by providing support on three levels: Psychological – injured players may be forced out of the game but they are encouraged to remain part of the rugby community. It takes a team to pick up a fallen player, and the fund joins this team. Physical – the fund provides equipment such as wheelchairs, as well as other essentials, to improve the quality of their lives. Emotional – the staff of the fund are just a phone call away, offering strength and encouragement for the injured players and their family as they learn to cope.
“We are very proud to be part of this exceptional project, which offers encouragement to rugby players who are struggling to adapt to life after serious injury on the sports field. To see Koben’s story come to life in such beautifully captured images and videos using our equipment is tremendously rewarding. We trust that everyone who watches these stories will draw inspiration from them,” says Dana Eitzen, corporate and marketing communications executive at Canon SA.
Canon SA is a proud supporter of South African sport. The company is the title sponsor of the South African Disabled Golf Open and the South African Disabled Golf Association’s First Swing programme, both of which serve to uplift, acknowledge and support South Africans who strive to live beyond their physical limitations and play golf.
The other four former rugby players who will feature in The Players’ Fund Project Hero include Charles (Chicco) Oppelt (33 years old from Mamre); Amos Mzimela (46 years old from East London), Henry Afrikaner (39 years old from Durbanville) and Captain Quenton Steele (50 years old from Fish Hoek).
All of these former rugby players, spanning all levels of the game, were injured during their sporting careers and will now have an opportunity to share their highest and lowest moments to help raise the spirits of those finding themselves in similar situations. The hope is that through this project the South African public will be able to see their faces, hear their stories and choose the Players’ Fund as their charity of choice in a Rugby World Cup year.
For more information about The Players’ Fund, follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. For more information about Canon, please visit www.canon.co.za or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn. (Article supplied by The Mail Room Communications on behalf of The Players Fund).