The 2023 Matric results reported a record high pass rate of 82,9%. This year, 40.9% of candidates attained a Bachelor’s pass which is an increase of 5% year-on-year with more learners than ever reaching this achievement. However, universities in South Africa are heavily oversubscribed which has meant many talented youth are unable to follow their dream of getting a degree. Many will do courses they don’t like or spend a gap year waiting for their chance to try again in 2025. But what if this isn’t all bad news?

“What if young men could use the time to discover who they are and explore the world while learning new skills?” asks Richard De Jager, Development Manager of RDJ Sports Development. “We provide young rugby players with the opportunity to explore new countries and horizons by connecting them with rugby clubs and universities in various parts of the world. Thanks to our extensive network of contacts, matriculants can travel to countries like Lithuania, Czech Republic, the UK, Ireland and the USA and play rugby for up to three months, depending on the visa requirements.”

My International Camps in Europe and the UK, which are created by De Jager and his team, are designed to give youth a more engaging and immersive experience more hands on than a gap year. Instead, they play for clubs and schools while building their social skills, learning more about the world and other cultures, and gaining essential life skills that stand them in excellent stead for university and their careers. Young athletes gain the benefits of improved athletic performance, a renewed sense of motivation and purpose, and self-confidence without compromising on their future.

“I believe it is critical that young people aren’t left behind because of over-subscribed universities and a complex system,” says De Jager. “They are, instead, given the chance to find out who they are in an environment that encourages independent thought, personal growth and skills development.”

RDJ Sports Development has partnered with UXI Sport, Several clubs in the Czech Republic, Lithuania RFU and several clubs in other countries like Estonia, Latvia, France and Germany, as well as potentially in the USA, to provide a unique sports gap year programme for young athletes. Designed to build on the foundations provided by traditional education, the programme challenges young people to discover more about themselves and the world in which they live. The goal is to not just further their rugby and sporting prowess, but to allow them time to assess what they really want to do in the future without losing ground or impetus.

“It is a comprehensive programme designed to turn young athletes into well-rounded individuals who can handle the challenges life sends their way,” concludes De Jager.

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