Landisa: What the Springbok victory meant to me, a child from rural Eastern Cape

2019-11-15 07:29
Kamva Somdyala

Kamva Somdyala

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When Siyamthanda Kolisi hoisted the Webb Ellis Cup into the Yokohama night sky on November 2, the gesture affirmed, "black child, it is possible."

Possible because of the uncomfortable relationship black South Africans have had with the sport of rugby – including everything from stalled development, limited opportunities and gate keeping by a group who believed the sport to belonged to them.

The Springboks, and Kolisi in particular, have invited us in 2019 to be part of a new legacy and trajectory. You just had to look at the scenes at the trophy parades through parts of the country to appreciate what the World Cup win has meant to many South Africans.

When I started playing rugby in the 2000s, I did so because I had to and not necessarily because I wanted to. In my four years of playing rugby at Queen’s College, I read up on the sport, understanding its history within the South African identikit.

The image I got was not a flattering one. In fact, it scared me. It was then worsened by the small number of people who looked like me who played rugby and in that I saw a sport that needed exceptional circumstances for black people to enter into.

The groundwork to where we are now has been slow, but expedited over the past 18 months or so. For the record, my support for the Boks has never been about how many people who look like me play for them, although it remained a lingering thought in the back of my mind. 

Our collective joy, of course, has also been met with the usual suspicion, with those who choose to celebrate the good news story being branded as blind followers of the sport’s documented blemishes.

What those who echo such sentiments fail to appreciate is that one can be both critical and complimentary of the team. The suggestion that the Bok team that won the World Cup – their third in as many finals – is the most representative is not to say that the minimum has now been accepted as the maximum.

My feelings of hope, inspiration and overall joy were also triggered by seeing young kids watching the World Cup final at the Zwide Stadium in Port Elizabeth: the young kids would glance at the big TV screen and then proceed to reenact what they just saw on the rugby field.

These kids will grow up to know that they have a fighting chance to make it beyond that stadium on that now historic Saturday. 

The Boks will continue to enjoy my support because, in the last 18 months or so, they have shown what a combination of vision, professionalism and honesty does to a national project. 

The tagline #StrongerTogether and then later #ChampionsTogether should be one we all move towards and celebrate.

Put differently, if I – and to borrow a bit of slang – "at my big age", can be inspired by the Bok story, with blemishes aplenty, then the young ones will bathe in a sea of possibilities when their time to shine rolls around.

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Read more on:    rugby world cup  |  springboks  |  landisa  |  rugby

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