More than just sport…

I won one medal for sport throughout my schooling career. And it was in primary school so that says a lot! I know – the joke is on me! The medal was for cross country. Remember that? It’s something that has stayed with me as I love fun runs and walks and continue to participate in them enthusiastically today. But that’s as far as my sporting abilities go. I often tell my son how fortunate he is to be exposed to a range of sporting activities that my generation was not privileged to enjoy.

Fast forward to 2020; what I lack as a sport participant, I certainly make up for as a supporter, especially if South Africa is playing. I have this fierce patriotism and I’m not afraid to shout about it and cry about it.

This week I found myself sobbing uncontrollably as I watched this video of Springbok captain Siya Kolisi accepting the Laureus Sports Award for best team of the year in Berlin, Germany. And I’m getting goosebumps just by typing that. We – as a nation – achieved that. Amid all our challenges, can we just live in this moment and take in the sheer strength, power and beauty of it? Please hit play…..

Reflecting on this moving speech by Siya, my colleague Rachel Vadi and I had to hold back the tears. She said to me – “Siya Kolisi embodies everything Mandela stood for. Mandela’s dream comes alive through him.” Indeed!

There is no dream deferred here. And the rainbow shines. What’s even more poignant is that the host of the awards on the night, actor Hugh Grant opened with these famous words by Mandela, “Sport has the power to change the world…”

And I think we often forget that. Perhaps we do not place enough emphasis on sport – starting from school level to clubs, communities and then at provincial and national level. Do we celebrate the achievements of our youth in sport as much as we celebrate academic excellence? And what about the spirit of participation? We must applaud those young players and their parents who pitch up and play their best. On the playing fields, everyone is level and we should see no colours of race or class; just the colours of the South African flag. That’s the potential that exists. Like Siya Kolisi, Cheslin Kobe, Natalie du Toit and many others, our youth must realise that they can one day represent our beloved South Africa on the world stage.

Am I being overtly optimistic? Am I ignoring the major socio-economic challenges facing our country? No. I continue to be disturbed by the current status quo and I have often written about that. But in failing to celebrate our remarkable global achievement, I would be failing in my duty as a South African.

This week, on the show I produce on Lotus FM, we chatted about the humanist philosophy made famous by another great South African – Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Ubuntu translated means I am because you are. It’s about acknowledging the power of the collective. And so, the Springboks winning team of the year amid some very tough competition, reminds us of what we can achieve together – on the sports field and beyond…

Habashwe – let’s do this!

(Picture credit: SA Rugby)

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