Tiarisha’s Story

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Tiarisha Maritz was born in one of the poorest communities in Gauteng, Reiger Park, where many children grow up in poverty and without an education, and girls face severe gender inequality and violence. She joined the Gauteng Women’s Rugby Institute program at a tender age of 12 years old in 2018. 

During these years it was clear that she has potential to become one of the great female rugby players in South Africa. She excelled in the sport with the assistance of the Gauteng Women’s Rugby institute, who provided guidance in rugby, but also assisted in a feeding scheme and after school homework program, to make sure the children also excel in their academics at school. The support GWRI gives girls in their education is crucial to their program, and is essential in providing these girls with the skills they need for their future.

In 2019 and 2020 Tiarisha represented the Gauteng Under 15 girls’ team that played in the National Winter Games. In 2020 and in 2021 during the toughest years for any sport during we supported her and her family at home to make sure that they always have food in the house. Many families in Gauteng live in poverty, and the pandemic only exasperated their constant struggle for food and shelter. For these families, GWRI has become a lifeline, giving them the vital support they need to survive.

Thanks to GWRI’s continued support during the pandemic, Tiarisha went on to represent the Valke under 16 provincial team during the national girl’s week. In 2022 and in 2023 she also represented the Valke provincial under 18 girls’ team that played in the national girl’s week. In fact, she was selected as the captain of the team during the 2023 national tournament, reflecting her hard work and dedication. Tiarisha then also represented the Valke Senior Female team at the tender age of 18 years old, that played in the national 1st Division Female Tournament. 

Academics has always played a very important role at the Gauteng Women’s Rugby Institute, and Tiarisha finished her grade 12 during the end of 2023. With GWRI’S help, she has now received a scholarship to study at one of South Africa’s best universities, the University of Pretoria. For girls like Tiarisha, going to University is something they could only dream of, but with GWRI, many girls have been able to complete their education and achieve scholarships to University. By helping girls attend University, GWRI is breaking a cycle of poverty that has been limiting children’s hopes here for generations, giving them a fighting chance to achieve a brighter future, to change their lives for the better.

Unfortunately, Tiarisha’s scholarship does not include her accommodation and meals, so the Gauteng Women’s Rugby Institute will continue to support her, providing the much needed accommodation in Pretoria, as well as her meals. 

Tiarisha will form part of the University of Pretoria’s 7’s program in 2024 and we are positive we will see her in her national colours and join the Springbok 7’s team very soon!

Everyone at GWRI and Atlas is incredibly proud of Tiarisha and what she has accomplished so far, if you would like to support Tiarisha, or more girls like her, please make a donation!

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