by Ralph Staniforth

Sports day in honour of Madiba

Football and Rugby come together to celebrate

Football and Rugby comes together to celebrate
Sports day in honour of Madiba

On 17 August 2013 the Springboks and Bafana Bafana will come together and celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela by playing their respective matches at the FNB Stadium.

The Springboks will face off against Argentina in their Rugby Championship match while Bafana Bafana will play Burkina Faso in a friendly.

Mandela is seen in many ways as the person who saved the Springbok emblem back in 1994. Many people wanted it changed as to them in signified the days of apartheid but Mandela fought against it. He believed that the symbol that once represented hurt and pain to the majority of the South African people could become a symbol of forgiveness, a symbol that celebrates our diversity and unifies this country.

Then, in 1995, he was proven correct. Mandela stood beside then Springbok captain, Francois Pienaar, and lifted the Webb Ellis Trophy as the Springboks won the Rugby World Cup on home soil.

That was the first sign that sport could unify the South African people. There was no black and white on that day as everyone celebrated the success of our national rugby team together.

The following year, in 1996, Mandela stood on the podium again. This time it was alongside former Bafana Bafana captain, Neil Tovey, as he lifted the African Cup of Nations trophy.

The sports day on 17 August is therefore a very fitting tribute to the great man’s legacy as football and rugby will come together on a day put aside for a South African hero.

Many questions have been asked about how viable this day actually is. While it is a great initiative one must wonder if it will be a success. We have to face the fact that football and rugby has two different sets of supporters.

However, we owe it to Madiba to make this work. There will be other festivities on the day as well. The day will start with a football game between the South African and Italian masters’ teams. That will be followed by the Bafana Bafana game and thereafter the Springbok clash. A concert will end the day off at the stadium.

All proceeds from the day will go to the Nelson Mandela Children’s hospital.

The rugby game was originally supposed to take place at the Free State stadium but they will be financially compensated for letting the test match move to the FNB Stadium.

Mandela, who is currently still in critical condition in hospital, would love this initiative. This is what he fought for - South Africans of all generations and race groups to come together and celebrate our diversity.

This day is in honour of Nelson Mandela’s legacy – the man behind the South African ubuntu spirit.

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