Sport For Racial Solidatory
In a country so young into democracy and freedom, a country still enraged with a cloud of racial hate in every corner you turn in which ever city there is (though the hate is not always evident, it is there).Testament to this perhaps would be the association of the upper middle class black and whites, hardly any association there! But there is thing we call SPORTS that always seems to grip the imagination of this rainbow nation thing that the country has always been trying to orchestrate since 1994.
In South Africa, sport, particularly at national level is used almost as a social re-constructive tool time and time again. The sad truth about sport as a nation building tool within a South African context is that it never truly goes the distance. People suffer the sports mad hangover for a week or two, maybe more, than from there, quickly shuffle back to their racist ways.
In 1995, South Africa hosted the IRB Rugby World Cup this barely a year into former President Nelson Mandela’s term as president of the country. Captained by Francois Pienaar and spiritually led by uTata Madiba, the Springboks marched on all the way and clinched their first Webb Ellis Cup on home soil in what is described as a pulsating world cup.Although past studies show that only 20% of black people were moved by this sizable victory, within a South African context, 20% of black people is a whole lot of people. Particularly when you look back to 1995, the number of people that now have access to radio, television and electricity has increased immensely as the government for all attempts to deliver basic services for all of its people, regardless of race and economics.
I am not in any part electioneering for the African National Congress – I am simply putting the facts out there.Not to say that black people do not care for the seemingly white sports in cricket and rugby or that white people do not care for soccer, but South Africa as a nation has come a long way in assuring participation from all and mobilising the masses in the fight for support from all genders and races.
We might as well become known as the sporting capital of the world, having already hosted the 1995 IRB Rugby World Cup, 1996 African Cup of Nations, 1996 World Cup of Golf, 1998 World Cup of Athletics, 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup, 2003 Presidents Cup, 2006 Paralympic Swimming World Championships, Six-star rated Surfing Championships, A1 Grand Prix since 2006, 2007 World Championships, 2009 Indian Premier League, 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, 2009 ICC Championships Trophy, 2009 UCI MTB World Cup, 2010 BMX World Championships, and the biggest prize of them all, the 2010 FIFA World Cup – also rated the best FIFA World Cup in history by FIFA.
Sports unites South Africans.
From the sport passionate baba who comes from a lowly township and owns a two bedroom home with a small yard, he was encouraged to join hands with his fellow pa who comes from a mega-million boom gated suburb with at least 5 bedrooms, a double garage, swimming pool and a cute little porch, sharing an ice cold draught of Castle Lager as Bafana Bafana took to the field in June 2010.
All this without any quarrels, both engraved in the deep heated excitement of the spirit of the occasion. Vuvuzela’s belting hard in the background, many more others neatly blended in to cause charismatic pictures of a rainbow nation finally shining bright in the open winter skies – just for a month, or so.When we reflect on the year 2010, we will remember that it might have all went wrong with the brutal killing of the AWB movement leader, Eugene Terreblanche.
To think that the country once divided for a few months, with the Afrikaaner community flying the apartheid South African flag high and proud in the sky reciting De La Rey, while the black masses came out in ANC regalia backing the accused by continuing to sing Dhubul’ Bhunu (Shoot the Boer).
Of course it is not only the football World Cup that has drawn South Africans together and apart as the respective tournaments drew to closure, the frequency at which we get over the euphoria and unity should be a cause of concern for the Social Development ministry and for the nation as a whole.
In fact, perhaps the closest the nation has come to unity since the world cup has been through the Democratic Alliances local municipal elections campaign with a multi-racial campaign that had support from atleast “some” of each race.
I’m worried about South African Fridays – well worried and super excited at the same time. Worried that Fridays are becoming a tool for the capitalists to gunner profits while we display patriotism in our green and yellows, excited that we take part in these initiatives.
So the formula to back the team is set and it definitely works, sportswear giants Adidas raked up millions of Rands between 2009 and 2010 as the Football Fridays initiative was launched and accepted by both the private and public sectors. Then in early 2011 when the Proteas went to the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup in Asia, Adidas replaced Reebok as the technical sponsors of Cricket South Africa in a deal that will cost Adidas a reported R100 million over 3 years. Again, we were introduced to Cricket Fridays with Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula and Sun International at the fore front of gearing up for the Proteas and supporting them as they hoped to not choke in India. South Africans went out and got their green branded cricket jerseys, although not in the sheer volume of the Bafana Bafana football jerseys, but still a considerable amount considering that the cricket would not be staged in South Africa. More recently, SARU has also launched an initiative to gunner support for the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup in New Zealand as the Springboks go down under with the hope of defending their Webb Ellis trophy that they won in France four years ago. As the 100 day countdown till the kick off of the 2011 IRB World Cup began, yes you most certainly guessed it – another Friday initiative. Yes, easy does it, no need for complications. The Rugby Fridays, same mantra as the cricket and soccer fridays.
Cantebury who invest R135 million over four years as the technical sponsor of the Bokke and the South African national rugby teams across all ages, will this time be the beneficiaries. With the respective technical sponsors for rugby and cricket paying R100’s of millions for as many as four years, I want to raise a concern that with the deal that see’s Puma take over as the technical sponsor to all South Africa Football Association teams. Puma will be supplying Bafana Bafana, Banyana Banyana, Amajita, Amaglug-glug for a miserly R37 million for seven long years.That will amount to about R5,28 million per year, considerably lower than the R8 million that Adidas had proposed to pay SAFA per year after the contract expired last year, and certainly lower in fashion and glamour.
For a team that is seemingly going places, FIFA rankings finally giving fans a glimmer of hope, with the Under 17 national team going to the U/17 FIFA World Cup – SAFA is not worth R5,28 million a year, with Puma pricing their replica’s at close to R800, a few hundred’s more than what Adidas was charging pre-World Cup – we’ve just simply been had!
We are a sports mad nation, every single one of us, though we may not care about all the sporting codes that may represent our beautiful nation at all times. There is certainly an air of patriotism about our country – but that is certainly not to say that our sports leaders should be so sports mad that they make the wrong business decisions for our sports!
Show Your Support For The Springbok – Get Yourself A Bokke Jersey and Wear It On Rugby Fridays!