Zuma vows to visit school if they return as rugby winners

2015-04-07 16:27
President Jacob Zuma. (GCIS)

President Jacob Zuma. (GCIS)

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Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma vowed in Pretoria on Tuesday that he would visit Orchards Primary School should their under-12 rugby team return from their tour of Monaco as tournament winners.

Zuma hosted the youngsters from Orchards in Johannesburg at the presidential guest house, Safako Makgatho, where he often went off script to tell the children about his experiences with rugby.

The team will be touring Monaco on April 11 after former SA Olympic swimmer, Princess Charlene of Monaco, invited them to compete in the Saint Devote tournament that includes teams from countries such as Spain, Switzerland, France, Italy, Russia, Wales and England.

“Sport makes people meet, it widens your horizons of knowledge, it creates social interaction not just in life of a person but in the community, the country and over the world,” Zuma said.

As Zuma told the children that they would be representing not only their school, but that they would be ambassadors abroad as defenders of the national flag, their coach and Orchards primary vice principal Selwyn January eyed them from the front.

“I wish I was still young because I used to have the strength and used to run. I was a goalkeeper and I also played the ball with my hands,” Zuma said.

“It is very good to see such a young talent beginning to play a very important role to represent South Africa and to be ambassadors of this country.

"You must shine there like South African stars and do what you know best.”

Demonstrating that he had some knowledge of rugby, Zuma asked the kids who occupied what positions while listing them.

Zuma spoke about his first interaction with rugby as a young boy in rural KwaZulu-Natal, where he first thought the players were playing hand ball.

His second account was during his time as a political prisoner on Robben Island where he said he played in the C team.

January said it was a special occasion for a school that only eight years ago had prioritised soccer over rugby, with the latter now the preferred sport.

“There wasn’t a lot of rugby in the school, with many of our kids coming from Alexandra which is a soccer area,” January said.

“We wanted to reach greater heights, but we didn’t expect to be invited to a tournament like this.”

He said rugby was a vehicle to a better life for these kids as it had already secured talented players bursaries at good schools in the past.

"We have produced a few provincial players and through that we have secured bursaries at your so-called better high schools."

Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  pretoria  |  education

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