Local rugby player heading for South Africa

Young talent

13 May 2019 | Sports

Aston Mwukiilongo “It is always best to prioritise, and in this case, school always comes first”

Walvis Bay • Leandrea Louw

Aston Mwukiilongo (18) is no stranger to the local and international rugby scene. He recently made his debut at the Kudus Rugby Club playing for both the reserve and premier league teams. In addition to cementing his name in the rugby player record books, he was invited by three different South African Rugby Academies to study and play rugby. He was also provisionally admitted by the Ireland Rugby Academy.

Being a versatile, agile player, Mwukiilongo is an all-rounder on the field, where he has played in the positions of full back, outside centre, fly-half and wing.

The teenager is also a devoted player of the Walvis Bay Private High School Naartjies where he is currently in grade 12. At the recent 5th annual BUCO Desert Sport Festival he was awarded as the Naartjies player of the festival.

Young starter

Mwukiilongo began his rugby career at the tender age of seven at Narraville Primary School, under the leadership of Wilfred Botha. He joined WBPHS in 2016, where he was selected to participate in the Under 16 Grant Khomo Academy Week, as well as member of the U/17 and U/18 Sevens teams. That same year he was awarded the title of Junior Sportsman of the Year and as Best Junior Player of the Year by his school.

“In 2017, I participated in the U/17 and U/18 Sevens, as well as the South African Academy Week where I was scouted by the Sharks Rugby Academy. At the time I was too young to decide if I wanted to join them.”

He has been selected to be part of the Namibian rugby team an impressive eight times and recently played in the African Youth Games. In the long run, he says, “I decided on Stellenbosch Rugby Academy and feel it’s a fitting choice, as I can study Project Management while at the same time do what I love the most.”

Debut try

During his debut for the Kudus, Mwukiilongo scored his first try for the reserve league team. “It was exciting and an honour to play for our local rugby team. I hope that I get to play more often for them.”

He says that this was the first year he was not selected to be part of the Namibia U/20 Sevens rugby team. After his first match for Kudus, he says efforts were made to exclude him from the next few games. “This isn’t going to stop me. I am determined and will work hard to leave my mark.” For the rest of the year, the teen will be focusing on school and he will be seen in action again at the NAPSO Private Schools Weekend taking place in Walvis Bay from 29 May to 3 June.

Going pro

His ultimate goal is to play professional rugby. “In about five years from now I see myself playing in the Super Rugby league for the Sharks. At the same time, I’d like to come back to my hometown and coach a local high school team, as my way of giving back to my community.”

His role model is Rieko Ioame (22) who is currently one of the youngest players for the All Blacks and who made his debut at the age of 17. “He inspires me with the fact that even though he is so young, he has achieved so much,” Mwukiilongo says.

His cousin, Allistaire Miller, is another role model as he is constantly motivating Mwukiilongo to never give up and always work hard.

Aside from being a rugby player, Mwukiilongo is also an athlete and participated in the Senior National Athletics Meet in Windhoek. Only the best athletes are invited to participate, and he is currently ranked fourth in the country for long jump. His personal best in this code is 7.10 metres and he can cover 100 metres in 10.93 seconds. At the athletics meet he received third place for long jump, but injured himself and could not compete in the 100 m race event.

“Sometimes it gets challenging to juggle school with my rugby and athletics. However, it is always best to prioritise, and in this case, school always comes first. I always make sure that I studied, completed my homework or an assignment before I go practice.”

Mwukiilongo advises his fellow youth to work hard and dream big. “Nothing comes easy, but with hard work, determination and perseverance you can make all your dreams a reality.”