Spinal injury to inspirational coffee

With a little help from the Chris Burger Petro Jackson Player’s Fund, Ollie Terblanche had the courage to find and pursue new passions, which lead to the inspirational Rise Coffee brand

Heinrich “Ollie” Terblanche was a determined rugby player with high hopes for a career in the sport he loved. He was a member of the Lions Super XV squad under John Mitchell and Carlos Spencer. He represented the University of Johannesburg (UJ) in the Varsity Cup Rugby and spent the 2014 season playing for the Carterton and Wairarapa-Bush rugby clubs in New Zealand.

Then … his life changed. In January 2015, while training for the South Western Districts Eagles at the Outeniqua Park in George, he fractured his neck, which resulted in spinal cord damage. The injury impacted his life and that of his then fiancé, Chanel Supra.

There are no courses and training that can prepare anyone for the impact of this type of injury. Often the only factors that can be controlled are one’s attitude, level of perseverance and a team approach to life. Looking back at Ollie’s journey, all these factors have been present. It enabled him to advance as a person and overcome barriers that no one would have expected. To this day, he continues to inspire everyone he meets.

Heinrich “Ollie” Terblanche with his rehabilitation team.

Through his injury, Ollie became a beneficiary of the Chris Burger Petro Jackson Players’ Fund, a non-profit and public-benefit organisation that is the official charity of the Springboks. By providing physical, psychological and emotional assistance to rugby players who have sustained serious injuries on the field, the organisation has also become known as Rugby’s Caring Hands.

Since its inception in 1980, the Fund has supported over 500 seriously injured players on their journeys of rehabilitation.

Following Ollie’s injury, the Players’ Fund has been a pillar of strength for him and his family. With the necessary mobility equipment provided and minor renovations to his home completed, the Fund has assisted Ollie to lead an independent life to the best of his ability. He reflects on the role that the Players’ Fund has had on his life:

“The Fund helped me pick myself up again after my accident. After a devastating injury like this you truly lose your identity. But the Fund helped me realise that life goes on, that you have to fight for your dreams and work hard at creating a new life for oneself,” he says.

In 2019, Ollie translated his passion for rugby and sharing his journey into a well-loved coffee brand called Rise Coffee. This delicious brand of coffee can be found on the shelves of Checkers and Spar stores along the Garden Route. To quote the Rise Coffee Co website:

Rise Coffee Co was founded on the belief that life can change in a flash and the challenges we face must be conquered in order to grow into a far greater being. We believe that each person must endure their trials and root themselves in good soil, sprout from the darkness, and rise from the earth to claim their new life.

We hope that every bag will inspire you to weather the storm you are facing and to rise from your darkness. That you will be reminded to grow strong and shoot into the skies, to have an honest and good heart and to bear fruit with patience.

The Players’ Fund is proud to have been nominated as Ollie’s charity of choice with a financial contribution of R2 from each bag of coffee sold donated to The Players’ Fund. This gesture and commitment has already helped raise R11 400 for those like Ollie whose futures were changed in the blink of an eye on the field.

Ollie with his wife, Chanel Supra.

“My dream for Rise Coffee is to make a difference,” Ollie says, “to continue to donate regularly to the Players’ Fund and to have our brand in every retail shop in South Africa and all over the world. Rise Coffee encourages people to rise out of circumstances no matter what the odds are, which is why a big dream of mine is to have Rise Coffee in hospitals like the one where I spent a lot of time after my injury.”

As well as promoting delicious coffee, Ollie continues to exercise daily with his wife Chanel, fighting to walk short distances with the use of crutches in the hopes of someday walking independently.

The Players’ Fund relies on donations from corporate South Africa as well as from the public with section 18A’s provision for tax relief. To find out more about how you can donate to the Fund, visit the organisation’s website at www.playersfund.org.za/get-involved.

A campaign is also currently running where all donors of R1 000 or more will receive a personal phone call from a former Springbok. To order your Rise Coffee, visit the website at www.risecoffeeco.co.za.