Wing Ederies Arendse says he’s decision to join Griquas in 2014 saw him conquer various personal and career challenges, which has helped him mature as a player and family man.
Having grown up in Cape Town and played most of his professional career at Western Province, Ederies Arendse opted for a fresh start when he made the decision to move to Kimberley three years ago.
During his fourth season at Griquas, Arendse earned his 50th cap for the Northern Cape-based union against the Sharks at Kings Park during the opening round of the SuperSport Rugby Challenge, which ended on a positive note as the visitors ran out 28-7 victors.
“It was a great result to cap off a special achievement. I never got to reach 50 matches for any team I’ve played for before, so to reach this milestone and getting a great result against a big team like the Sharks in Durban will be a career highlight for me,” Arendse told MyPlayers.
“The match was a tough one. We didn’t get to dominate possession as the score suggests, having to make over 200 tackles as a team, but we made the most of our scoring opportunities and got the desired result.”
Arendse added that the new SuperSport Rugby Challenge is a great addition to the South African rugby calendar.
“A new concept is always exciting, but what’s great about the SuperSport Rugby Challenge is the addition of club games and taking the sport to our communities,” said Arendse. “We have many talented rugby players across the country, but not all of them have the opportunity to play professional rugby. So many of these players end up playing club rugby, which has improved the standards of the semi-professional and amateur game all across the country. You won’t see Maties going unbeaten for two or three seasons anymore as every club brings a competitive edge to the field.
“These clubs will appreciate the airtime on TV during the Gold Cup. Maybe we will see some of their top talent playing their way to bigger opportunities.
“It’s also great to see games being played in our communities, where there are many social problems like gangsterism and drugs. Rugby has a positive influence on the youth, who will look up to their rugby heroes and aspire for big dreams, while communities can come together for a great day of sport.”
Looking back to his arrival in Kimberley, Arendse said there were a series of challenges that he faced over the past four years, which have helped become a better man.
“In terms of rugby, there are various scenarios you go through as a player that test you. Injuries are never nice, but are a big part of the game. When you get injured, you’re forced off the field and see another team-mate replace you. And it’s great to see a fellow player do well for the team, but missing out on opportunities does affect one. It’s human nature. But with experience, you realise that you just need to keep working hard and make sure you do well for the team’s ambitions and not just your own. That helps you become a better player,” said Arendse.
“Off the field, I have to thank my wife for all the love and support. I receive a lot of messages of support from friends and family, especially back home in Cape Town, but my wife has been by my side through the good and bad.
“Moving from Cape Town to Kimberley hasn’t been easy as the two towns are very different, but we’ve managed to settle in over the years. We’ve made friends with many of the locals, while we now have a young family too. My wife teaches at a local school, while our daughter attends creche. Fatherhood has given me a fresh perspective and motivation to work hard. As parents, we have to set a good example for our child.
“The move to Kimberley has taken me out of my comfort zone, but it has made me a better man.”
Arendse has also decided to dedicate time to prepare for life after rugby. He’s currently pursuing a qualification through Oxbridge Academy in Electrical Construction and Infrastructure.
“I still have goals I want to achieve in rugby. I want to help Griquas do well in domestic competitions. They say a wing needs to score tries, but there are other areas of the game that we need to contribute towards… like on defence, chasing kicks and support at the rucks,” he said.
“But looking ahead, especially with my family in mind, I’m getting something behind my name to prepare for a second career. This will help me provide for my family when my rugby days are over.
“I was motivated to study Electrical Construction and Infrastructure through Oxbridge Academy thanks to MyPlayers’ educational benefits. (MyPlayers Career Development Manager) Jonéll van der Westhuizen was very helpful during my application process. With the assistance MyPlayers offers, most professional players should be taking time out to study. When I am ready to use my qualification, I hope to work for a good company and then start my own business after getting the necessary experience.”
While rugby has played a big role on and off the field for Arendse, he also believes religion has set a good foundation between him and team-mates. As the only Muslim player in the Griquas squad, Arendse said there are good conversations that occur to creating a better understanding around the differences in faith.
“The other players are Christian, but that doesn’t create any boundaries between us. In fact, it’s nice to have good conversations around our beliefs, which strengthens the bonds between team-mates,” explained Arendse.
“Some guys believed that the Muslim Halaal dietary requirements meant I couldn’t eat meat. But I join in on team braais and get-togethers as I bring my own meat that I get from my Halaal butcher in Kimberley. I also respect and learn their views on life.
“With Muslim religion receiving a bad name on a global scale because of some news reports, it’s nice that South African rugby is becoming a platform for Muslim players to have a positive voice. You have guys like Uzair Cassiem at the Cheetahs and Nizaam Carr at the Stormers playing well and going on to become Springboks. This will allow rugby to become a more diverse game for all South Africans, not only uniting people of different races, but different religions too.”
By Gareth Duncan