First team schoolboy rugby players’ understanding of their future career trajectories

Ellis, Tiaan (2016-12-01)

Thesis (MEdPsych) --Stellenbosch University, 2016

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT : Over the past two decades, the growing global popularity of rugby has led to professional rugby becoming a lucrative career prospect with bigger contracts, sponsorships and increased specialization in the sport. It is, therefore, not surprising that many high-school learners aspire to become professional players. However, only a small percentage of these players may fulfil their ambitions. This study explored how first-team rugby players at school understand their future career paths, and how they plan for it. The investigation also explored how rugby players perceive their identity, the role of rugby in this regard and their understanding of the transitions inherent to a career in rugby. A social constructionist and systemic meta-theoretical framework was employed to shed light on the findings. It focused on how participants’ reality can be shaped through social interaction, but also through cultural and historical influences. For this qualitative study, seven participants were selected by means of purposive sampling. Selection criteria stipulated that the participants had to be in grade 11 or 12, and in their school’s first-team rugby squad. Data were collected by means of semi-structured individual interviews, followed by a focus-group interview. The coach of the first team and the grade-12 head teacher also completed an open-ended questionnaire. Data were analysed through thematic analysis. The three main themes derived were identity formation, the notion of rugby and career opportunities. Each theme consisted of various subthemes and categories of codes. The findings indicated that the participants regard the first three years after completing school as a crucial period and an indicator for a successful future career in rugby. The process of identity formation, arising from participation as first-team players, influenced the way they perceived and planned for their future careers. Selection for a provincial side strongly influenced the career aspirations of the participants. It might be useful to develop scholastic and career counselling programmes to facilitate the holistic development of talented schoolboy rugby players in South Africa. Such programmes can focus on a balanced development of sport specific and academic skills, including psychological and practical preparation for the very specific nature of a career as a professional rugby player.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Die wêreldwye gewildheid van rugby het die afgelope twee dekades baie toegeneem. Dit het gelei daartoe dat professionele rugby ‘n winsgewende loopbaanvooruitsig geraak het met groter kontrakte, borgskappe en verhoogde spesialisering in die sport. Dit is dus nie verbasend dat baie hoërskool leerders daarna streef om professionele spelers te word nie. Daar is egter slegs ‘n klein persentasie spelers wat suksesvol daarin is om hierdie ambisie te verwesenlik. Hierdie studie het ondersoek ingestel na die wyse waarop eerstespan rugbyspelers op skool hul toekomstige loopbaanroetes verstaan. Die ondersoek het ook verken hoe rugbyspelers hul identiteit beskou, die rol van rugby in hierdie verband en hul begrip van die loopbaanfases wat inherent is aan ‘n loopbaan in rugby. ‘n Sosiaal konstruktivistiese en sistemiese metateoretiese raamwerk is aangewend om lig te werp op die bevindinge. Dit het gefokus op hoe deelnemers se werklikhede gevorm kan word deur middel van sosiale interaksie, sowel as deur kulturele en geskiedkundige invloede. Hierdie kwalitatiewe studie het sewe deelnemers gekies deur middel van doelgerigte steekproeftrekking. Keuringskriteria het bepaal dat leerders in Graad 11 of 12 en in die skool se eerstespan oefengroep moes wees. Data is ingesamel deur middel van semigestruktureerde individuele onderhoude, gevolg deur ‘n fokusgroep onderhoud. Die afrigter van die eerstespan en Graad 12 hoof het ook ‘n oop-einde vraelys voltooi. Data is ontleed deur middel van tematiese analise. Drie hooftemas is afgelei, naamlik identiteitsformulering, die beskouing van rugby en loopbaangeleenthede. Elke tema bestaan uit verskeie subtemas en koderings-kategorieë. Die navorsingsbevindings het aangedui dat deelnemers die eerste drie jaar na voltooiing van skool as belangrike periode en aanduider van ‘n suksesvolle loopbaan in rugby beskou. Die proses van identiteitsvorming, wat voortspruit uit deelname as eerstespan-speler van die skool, het ‘n invloed gehad op die wyse waarop eerstespan-spelers hul toekomstige loopbane vooruitskou en beplan. Deelname aan provinsiale spanne het ‘n sterk invloed op die loopbaan vooruitsigte van deelnemers gehad. Dit kan nuttig wees om skolastiese en loopbaanvoorligting programme te ontwikkel wat holistiese ontwikkeling van talentvolle skole rugbyspelers in Suid-Afrika sal fasiliteer. Sulke programme kan fokus op ‘n gebalanseerde ontwikkeling van sportspesifieke en akademiese vaardighede, insluitende sielkundige en praktiese voorbereiding vir die hoogs spesifieke aard van ‘n loopbaan as professionele rugbyspeler.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/100279
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