Westville Girls High School learner Erin Sterkenburg, 16, is a keen sportswoman. She has played U16A indoor hockey, U16A and first team outdoor hockey, U16A and first team basketball and is the highest achieving member of the school’s rock climbing team. Sterkenburg is also a dedicated scholar, having been placed consistently in the top 10 for academics, since the beginning at Westville Girls’. She was recently selected to represent South Africa at the World Youth Climbing Championships in Arco.

Sterkenburg began her climbing career in 2017, when she started at Westville Girls’ High. She has achieved well in both the provincial and national tournaments and after climbing for only three months, was placed second in KZN for bouldering and fifth at SA Nationals for lead.

Her rock climbing career has grown from strength to strength even though the sport is considered to be extreme and male dominated. “I tried rock climbing a few times when I was younger and enjoyed it, and then when I got to Westville Girls’ High. It was a sport that they offered, so I started to climb. Even though it is an extreme sport, there are many females that climb too,” said Sterkenburg.

With her recent achievement, she said, “I am very happy that I was selected as I have put a lot of effort into my training. I represented South Africa at Worlds last year in Russia and learnt a lot, so I am glad to have the opportunity to compete again.”

She said she is inspired by other climbers in South Africa and internationally and this motivates her to keep trying to better herself and personally wants to keep improving. “I do it for fun and I just love to climb. As a child, my sister and I were always climbing trees and are very adventurous and that is where I think my joy in climbing started.”

Sterkenburg’s parents, Ronelle and Mike are excited about their daughter’s success, however, are challenged with raising the much needed funds for her trip to Arco. She said the cost of the trip is a massive R45 000 and her parents, are not able to come up with this amount on their own. Ronelle said, “We are desperately trying to fundraise for Erin. It would break our hearts to have to tell her that she is unable to go, if we cannot raise the money, especially after all the hard work she has put into her training and the qualifying events. ”
Both the parents and Sterkenburg’s coach have tried to raise the funds by setting up an online funding request through  ‘gogetfunding’ for donations. Her mother is also organising a raffle and has approached some friends and family for help. The family is now seeking assistant from the community to make their child’s dream come true. Having achieved so much, Sterkenburg said her goal is to continue training and preparing for the World Championships then after school, she will definitely continue to climb, whether just for fun, or to carry on competing. “I will have to see,” she added.

To assist Erin Sterkenburg get closer to her trip to Arco, you can contact her mother by emailing her on rsterkes@nashuaisp.co.za .