Salmaan Moerat: Family comes first

Thu, 08 Sep 2016 08:38
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IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Tauriq Ebrahim takes a look at the renowned Moerat family and the next star in a long line of provincial and national representatives.

Hailing from Paarl in the Western Cape, the Moerat's are arguably the most successful sporting family in South Africa as their achievements can be traced all the way back to 1944 when Moutie Moerat and his brother in law, Esa Abrahams founded Vineyards RFC - a club which still exists today.

Fast forward 72 years and a 19-year-old Salmaan Moerat has now been handed the baton of continuing the family's legacy. With such a rich family history in the sport, it was almost certain that he would follow in the steps of those family members before him.

"I don't think I needed much inspiration to start playing rugby because I grew up in a family that loves rugby. With my father, Nazim Moerat, playing rugby himself for SARU in the Apartheid era, I have always looked up to him and I guess that is where my love for rugby started.

"I remember the days when my father would spend hours with me at the field when I was a young boy, teaching me the game and my mother for her endless support. My parents have sacrificed so much for me to where I am today.

"My family loves rugby and I grew up in a rugby rich culture, with various family members representing Western Province and SARU during the 1980s," he said.

Salmaan began his representative career in 2011 when he played in the Under-13 Craven Week under the colours of Boland while attending the Al-Azhar Institute. He then moved to Paarl Boys' High and went on to represent Western Province in the 2014 Grant Khomo Week as well as the 2015 Craven Week.

His performance at the 2015 tournament saw him being selected into the 2015 SA Schools team. He followed that up with being selected as the captain of WP's 2016 Craven Week team, where he led them to an unbeaten run in the competition.

His strong showing and excellent leadership qualities did not go unnoticed as he then became the captain of the SA Schools team and led them to remain unbeaten in the Under 19 International Series in Cape Town.

Since those exploits, Salmaan has been the topic of conversation in numerous circles. Some have even gone as far as saying that he would not only become a Springbok but would also eventually be handed the Springbok captaincy.

Should these forecasts come to fruition, he will become the first member of his family - in the professional era - to reach this level and, in the process, eclipse the accomplishments of Ebrahim Moerat. Ebrahim, who worked at rugby365 for a brief period, represented South Africa at the 2003 U-21 World Cup - which remains the family's highest achievement in the professional era.

Away from the field, Salmaan remains rooted in strong family values - something he holds dear as he helps out in the family business whenever he can.

"My family is in the Fruit and Vegetable trade and this has been a family business for quite some time. So whenever I have time on my hands, I try to help wherever I can.

"At the end of the day, they [my family] are the ones that keep me grounded and humble as well as support me by providing me with the necessities to become a better player. They [my family] always encourage me to keep on improving each and every week," he added.

The family's rugby rich culture began in 1944 with the formation of Vineyards but their provincial and national representation started in 1948 when Abbas Moerat and Na-aim Moerat were part of the Western Province League Squad for the Rhodes Tournament. The pair were also selected into the National Rhodes team of that year.

Then came the likes of Achmat 'Broertjie' Abrahams, Ghalieb and Hasiem 'Maharajah' Hendricks, Ebrahim 'Braimpie', Ikraam 'Billy', Marwaan, Achmat and Salmaan's father Nazeem Moerat - who have all achieved National honours during the 80s.

Salmaan has pledged his future to Western Province, a Union he has grown up supporting and dreamt about representing while he will also continue his academic journey.

"I've always been an avid Western Province fan and have always dreamt of wearing the Western Province jersey at senior level. Therefore, I have decided to stay at WP. Nothing is ever guaranteed in rugby - with the possibility of unfortunate injuries - which is why I am going to further my education by studying towards a Bachelor of Arts degree," he stated.

By Tauriq Ebrahim
*Additional information and historic images supplied by Junaid Moerat from his 2004 thesis on the history of Vineyards RFC