Scor­ing tries for disas­ter aid

The Mercury - - FRONT PAGE - JAUHARA KHAN

CLUBS in the lo­cal rugby league have been of­fered a wor­thy in­cen­tive to win: score a try and help the peo­ple of Ja­pan.

This is the con­cept de­vised by Bluff rugby club Har­lequins to as­sist those caught in the dev­as­tat­ing 9.0-mag­ni­tude earth­quake and tsunami that struck north-east Ja­pan less than two weeks ago.

Ev­ery try scored dur­ing the re­main­ing games of the Frank Nor­ris un­der-20 A league sea­son will raise R300 for the “Tries for Char­ity” cam­paign. The funds will be do­nated to a des­ig­nated earth­quake disas­ter fund.

Har­lequins coach Andy Keast was in­spired to help by the pres­ence of Mat­sushima Ko­taro, the first Ja­panese player in the Sharks Academy, in his team: “I had seen what was hap­pen­ing in Ja­pan on the news at the time, and I thought of Ko­taro, this young lad whose fam­ily is there.

“I thought: ‘ Why aren’t we try­ing to do some­thing to help?’”

Pre­to­ria-born Ko­taro, whose mother is Ja­panese and whose late fa­ther was Zim­bab­wean, be­gan at­tend­ing the Sharks Academy in Dur­ban in Jan­uary, af­ter be­ing cho­sen from 500 ap­pli­cants last year. The full­back also rep­re­sented Ja­pan in its un­der-18 na­tional side last year.

Keast and the KZN Rugby Union asked Mc­Carthy Toy­ota KZN CEO Jimmy Smith to sup­port the cam­paign.

With Toy­ota’s par­ent com­pany be­ing Ja­panese, Smith of­fered to spon­sor R300 for ev­ery try scored by the six clubs in the league, pledg­ing up to R15 000.

“It would be fan­tas­tic if other com­pa­nies could match, if not bet­ter, their of­fer. We can raise a nice amount of money for Ko­taro to do­nate to the peo­ple of Ja­pan,” said Keast.

Ko­taro’s mother is a so­cial worker in Tokyo, where he at­tended Toin Gakven High School. He is liv­ing with a host fam­ily on the Bluff.

The quiet but friendly Ko­taro said his fam­ily and home in Ja­pan had sur­vived the earth­quake and tsunami, and he hoped to visit them dur­ing the Easter hol­i­day.

Speak­ing about the char­ity cam­paign, he said: “This means good news for Ja­pan, and I will try my best to score.”

Other busi­nesses that would like to take up the chal­lenge should phone Al­bert Hanekom at 031 308 8400 or e-mail al­[email protected]

PIC­TURE: TERRY HAY­WOOD

Har­lequins full­back Mat­sushima Ko­taro hopes to score lots of tries in the Frank Nor­ris un­der-20 A league sea­son, as each try scored will earn money for the vic­tims of the earth­quake in Ja­pan.

KEAST

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