The Players’ Fund Project Hero sponsored by Canon SA is a visual documentary of five rugby players in South Africa whose lives were changed by serious injuries on the field whilst playing at different levels of the game. Their stories of determination, hope, dignity and the strength of the human spirit, illustrate heroic qualities which inspire and showcase the impact that the Players’ Fund has on their lives. In order to continue playing the role of Rugby’s Caring Hands, the Players’ Fund appeals to the rugby-loving public to see their faces, hear their stories and choose this worthy cause for charitable giving.
Koben Hofmeyr – On the 19th of May 2018 in Bela-Bela, Limpopo, Koben Hofmeyr (then 15) ran onto the rugby field as his school’s u/16 side’s rugby captain, He was a popular and respected captain in Hoërskool Louis Trichardt, playing inside centre and identified by those close to him as “always fit and well prepared”.
In the second half of the match Koben lined his opponent up for a tackle as he had done so many times before. On impact he felt the players hip hit his neck, heard a cracking sound and fell to the ground. Koben describes the memories he has of the event: He immediately felt pain and pins and needles. Then he realised that he couldn’t stand up. It quickly became apparently that Koben was seriously injured and required urgent medical attention…
Whilst this tragic scenario could be viewed as a nightmare for most, Koben and his family have grown even stronger since this accident. They are thankful for the blessings they have received from God, in awe of the progress that Koben has made and grateful for the wonderful support from Koben’s school, their community and that of the wider rugby and friendship circles.
He returned to school only four months after the accident and while welcomed with open arms and the same level of companionship – he still says “Going to school itself has been the greatest challenge by far. Having to adapt to being around the people who knew you as a certain person and the fact that you have changed…”
Koben had to undergo numerous surgeries following his accident and still receives intensive physiotherapy and occupational therapy on a regular basis.
Koben reflects on his sessions by saying “it is so difficult when you’re telling your body to do something it always used to do, but it doesn’t respond in the way it should”. His prognosis for his recovery is continuously improving because of the dedication and focus that he brings to the rehabilitation process, just as he brought it to the game he used to play – and still loves so much.
The Players’ Fund received notification of Koben’s injury through the Boksmart reporting process for serious injuries that occur on the rugby field. The Fund’s General Manager, Gail Baerecke, is the serious injury case manager for Boksmart and is notified immediately once such an unfortunate accident takes place.
When Koben ran onto the field in May of 2018, 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 Koben and his family, but also another 107 other rugby players in SA who, due to injury have found themselves in similar positions.
The Fund works together with the injured players’ medical teams and families to understand where they can be supported on the road ahead.
“It is a privilege to be part of this project,” Koben has said. “If my story can help and assist others who are also injured, or inspire someone who unfortunately sustains such an injury, then I will be happy that I could help. I still love rugby, I love the game. I am thankful for each opportunity to grow stronger,” he said.