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Back You are here: Home Sports Rugby Kwa Zulu Natal Cecil Afrika- Rising Superstar Straight out of Craven Week
Tuesday, 05 July 2011 09:28

Cecil Afrika- Rising Superstar Straight out of Craven Week

Cecil Afrika is certainly one of the brightest stars to emerge on the world rugby scene in recent years.

This Port Elizabeth native has set the HSBC Sevens World Series alight this year with his explosive pace and natural eye for a gap.
Cecil first burst onto the local scene at U12 Level where he represented the Eastern Province in a youth week tournament. He was offered a chance to attend the specialized Harmony Sports Academy in Grade 10, where he flourished on and off the field, representing the Northern Free State Griffons at the 2004 & 2005 Grant Khomo U16 Weeks and the 2006 Coca-Cola Craven Week. Cecil has since gone on to play for the Emerging Springbok Sevens, the South Africa U20s and he has been a regular figure for the Springbok Sevens squad over the past two seasons. He finished the 2010/2011 HSBC World Sevens Series as both the top try-scorer and the overall top points-scorer of the season and this is despite suffering a broken jaw in the George tournament in December 2010. He has inspired young players all over the world –his YouTube Season highlights package having already attracted more than 17000 views. With him being nominated for the 2010/2011 Sevens Player of the year, he is a brilliant example of how Greatness Beckoned for a dedicated young superstar.

1. We understand that you have a very sporting family - how has this influenced you in rugby?
My parents played sport when they were young, so I was blessed with their talents and I also share their love for sport, especially rugby.

2. Craven Week is one of the greatest platforms for scouting and discovering players of the future. How did Youth Week tournaments help you grow and mature as a player and a person?
The Coca-Cola Craven Weeks attract a lot of talented players. I realised from early on that you had to be on top form and work twice as hard to make an impression if you wanted the scouts to notice you. I suppose the Craven Weeks were really where it all started for me.

3. You attended Harmony Sports Academy. How did this assist you in your development on a sporting and personal level?
The Academy helped to develop my skills on and off the field and I was privileged to be given an opportunity. I gained a lot of experience on a personal level, because there were times when I had to get up at 5am in the morning to go and practise. I eventually got used to it and in the long run it has taught me great discipline and determination.

4. Do you feel that scouting students for specialized sports academies, such as Harmony, is sustainable way to bring through talented youngsters?
Yes I do, because a lot of talented teenagers would otherwise not get the opportunity to develop their rugby and academic skills. For me it was a case of showing scouts that there are talented players like myself who can make the best of the opportunities.

5. Eastern Cape rugby is going through some exciting changes at the moment. What else can they do to develop as a province and in their local schools?
I think that it would be a great idea to start an Academy such as Harmony somewhere in the Eastern Cape, so that young players in the region can get the opportunity to improve their skill. There is a lot of hidden talent in the rural areas of the Eastern Cape and having such an Academy there would benefit the people tremendously. Such an Academy would encourage players to finish school and also to focus on rugby. In my view, that would also allow the Eastern Province and Border rugby unions to keep an eye on talented youngsters and they must then keep those Craven Week players in the region and help them to further their rugby careers.

6. What has been your most memorable experience as a youngster on the HSBC Sevens World Series?
The South African victory at the Las Vegas tournament, because it was my first tournament title win.

7. How did you recover from your recent injury and get back into playing for the Sevens so soon?
The doctors that operated on me performed a great job and the medical staff took really great care of me. All of that helped in my recovery and I was able to get better much sooner than expected. It took a while for me to be able to participate in field activities, but once I was able to do that, the time flew by really quickly and I in no-time was able to play again.

8. What is your greatest achievement?
I am grateful for the three tournaments that we have won this year, but on an individual level it must be my nomination for the IRB Sevens Player of the Year.

9. Would you consider switching back to 15-man rugby permanently after your recent run with the Premier XV against the Eastern Province Kings?
I would very much love to play for the Springboks one day that is my ultimate dream. For now though I am focused on Sevens and doing well for the Springbok Sevens and I would love to play in the Olympic Games and win a medal for South Africa in 2016.

10. What do you get up to in your down-time?
I like to relax with a movie and I play PlayStation games.

11. Who are you backing for this year's Absa Currie Cup?
I would say that DHL Western Province is an early favourite because they have the players and a very good structure in place.

12. What does the future hold for Cecil Afrika?
I am focused on winning a Gold Medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

13. Any final words of encouragement for youngsters hoping to make it to the top?

Never give up on your dreams, always stay focused and work hard towards your dream. In the end it's not what you have in life but what you make of the things you do have that matters.