Pay day: nope, you won’t get paid

Imagine this: you are called in to a meeting and the news is shared with you that you will not be paid this month. Neither will you be paid the next month. Or the next. As an extra bonus: your career might be over.

This is the news the Southern Kings received on 19 September, 2020. All together 36 rugby players and 16 personnel are affected by this devastating news.

Future shattered

Many of these players are young and their careers have just started. They just came out of school after playing their hearts out to be contracted by a union. Others have been contracted in from another province, with the promise that here, at the Kings, they will make their debut.

That all has changed.

The union was declared bankrupt and the players, as well as the personnel, were left in what can only be described as a rugby desert. Shattered. With financial responsibilities that won’t disappear within a few days.

It might mean the end

Braam van Straaten, former coach of the Kings, says he still can’t believe it. “I get so emotional when I speak about it. There’s no other contracts out there. The unions have already spent their budgets. The reality is, for many players it can mean the end of his career, even before it started.”

Cameron Wright, a promising player who came from the Sharks, moved to Port Elizabeth six weeks before the bomb dropped. Together with his wife and one-year-old daughter they wanted to build a new future in a different province. He since had to move back to Durban after selling his house and furniture.

Van Straaten says neither SARU or the Eastern Cape Rugby Union helped. “There was no ‘we’re sorry’, nothing. It’s horrific.”

Need support

Van Straaten, also a former Springbok rugby player, says he knew he had to do something. “No-one can believed what had happened. You are lost. You don’t know where to turn. I started a fundraising initiative so that we can help these guys until they can get back on their feet. I am so scared one of them feels like he just can’t carry on anymore. Life hit him too hard. I don’t even want to think about it but it’s a reality. The guys need support, they don’t even have counselors. I don’t know what the extent of the impact on them would be. Many of them were contracted for two years, others for three years. They already have high stress levels just by playing rugby, now it’s even worse. Some of them will play for other unions, maybe in a year or three. Others will never play again. It’s the end.”

Initiative – help these guys

Care 4 Kings, the initiative van Straaten started, has called on professional sportsmen, especially current and legend rugby players, to donate items for an online sports memorabilia auction that will be held on 16 and 17 October. “It’s incredible to see some of the items that will be auctioned off. This is an opportunity like never before and the bonus is, you get to help the future of our sportsmen. These guys have big dreams, a ton of passion and heart for rugby.”

How can you help?

  1. Join the Care 4 Kings Facebook page where information about the auction will be shared
  2. Support the online auction on 16 and 17 October
  3. Get your buddies together for a pub lunch on Friday, 16 October and bid together on fantastic items
  4. Send a donation to Care 4 Kings – mail van Straaten at braam@care4kings.co.za for banking details
  5. Pledge your support for tomorrow’s sport stars by posting about this initiative on your social media accounts with the hashtag #care4kings

Let’s come together as a nation and show that we can stand together. “This is an opportunity to make a change. Everything is so uncertain. We’ve been through Covid-19, crime,  you name it. This is something good that you do for someone else, because you can,” urges van Straaten.

Follow Care 4 Kings Facebook page and Instagram.

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