The momentum and energy created by the Springboks’ 2019 World Cup win needs to be channeled into making positive and lasting changes to country’s sporting landscape, writes DYLAN JACK.
As the World Cup progressed and the Springboks moved towards to the final, so did the vibe in the country as South Africans started to believe that the team could achieve glory once again.
Millions of South Africans gathered around the nearest television, be it at their homes or the nearest mall, pub or tavern, and celebrated as one when Siya Kolisi lifted the Webb Ellis trophy.
However, when the World Cup party inevitably starts to wind down in the coming weeks and months, the reality will once again set in that South Africa faces difficult times. Many of the country’s state-owned enterprises are struggling while there is still an unemployment rate of 29%. Racism and gender-based violence have not just disappeared simply because the Springboks lifted the World Cup.
On the sporting front, youngsters with massive potential to become the next Makazole Mapimpis are overlooked on a yearly basis. The socio-economic challenges faced by these youngsters mean that maybe one out of one hundred of them get the chance to break through. Indeed, professional rugby is still a privileged sport in South Africa. It was something Rassie Erasmus alluded to in his post-match media conference.
‘Pressure is not having a job, having a close relative who is murdered,’ Erasmus said. ‘Rugby should not create pressure, it should create hope. We have a privilege, not a burden.’
However, if there is something that can come out of this achievement, it would hopefully be a drive towards creating something long term that can give kids in the underprivileged areas of the Eastern and Western Cape, for example, the chance, resources, and opportunities that Kolisi got.
The Connect Sports Academy and Vuka Rugby Programme have both provided examples of how to implement real transformation, albeit on a smaller scale with a limited budget. Both have provided children with the opportunity to escape their realities and make better lives for themselves through sport. The amount of work that the people involved in these programmes go through with their youngsters is something to behold.
One has to hope that the South African government and sports ministry will capitalise on the good feeling created by the Boks and make real and lasting changes where it is needed most. There need to be more Kolisis, more Mapimpis and more Kolbes coming through.
Photo: Steve Haag via HollywoodBets