SA sports stars gear up for Gary Player Invitational

Gary Player (Getty Images)
Gary Player (Getty Images)

Cape Town - Rugby World Cup-winning Springbok Steven Kitshoff and an array of South African sports legends will come together this weekend in support of The Player Foundation and its drive to make a difference for charity through the Gary Player Invitational at the Lost City Golf Course at Sun City. 

Kitshoff and fellow Springboks Bryan Habana, Akona Ndungane, Odwa Ndungane, Butch James, Patrick Lambie and Owen Nkumane as well as former Proteas cricket captain Shaun Pollock, International Boxing Hall of Fame member Brian Mitchell, and former Bafana Bafana stars Mark Williams, Jimmy Tau and Matthew Booth join a field of men and women professional golfers and business leaders in the 20th anniversary of the Gary Player Invitational and to celebrate the over $64 million The Player Foundation has raised for charity, and its goal of reaching $100 million. 

And all spoke of their incredible admiration for the work of The Player Foundation and the 20-year history of this tournament in changing people’s lives. 

For Kitshoff in particular, the Gary Player Invitational and its ability to use sport to change people’s lives resonates with a man who after the Springboks’ Rugby World Cup triumph in Japan has witnessed how sport can unite South Africa. 

“It’s been a crazy couple of weeks after the Rugby World Cup victory. South Africans just came out in their masses to share in our celebration and it was incredible to see. The team put in so much hard work and made so many sacrifices. It’s been an incredibly great journey,” said Kitshoff, who is making his debut in the Gary Player Invitational. 

The 36-hole tournament has for the past 20 years been the final tournament on the global Gary Player Invitational series, and is the major fundraiser for The Player Foundation’s selected beneficiaries Wings and Wishes and the Blair Atholl School. 

It’s a remarkable legacy that had Shaun Pollock in awe of the impact it has made for charity. 

“What The Player Foundation has done for charity has been remarkable. What Gary Player achieved as a golfer is one thing, and then when that came to an end the impact he has made through The Player Foundation is fantastic. He is so passionate and full of energy, and even though he is 84 it doesn’t affect the impact he is still having,” he said. 

Pat Lambie, who is playing in his first Gary Player Invitational, is just as impressed with the longstanding charity impact of this tournament and The Player Foundation. 

“I’ve heard so much about the Gary Player Invitational and I’m so excited to be here. Gary Player is so inspirational. When he talks it makes you just want to get up and conquer the world. It’s great to be a part of the good work of The Player Foundation and see the impact it is making in people’s lives,” he said. 

Odwa Ndungane said he is certainly inspired to do his part for charity this weekend.

“I was ecstatic when I received an invitation. We all know the icon that Gary Player is, so to spend some time with him and then also see some good come out of it for charity and to help The Player Foundation is a wonderful opportunity. All young South Africans can learn from the amazing work done by The Player Foundation,” he said.

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