Bloemfontein - The Cheetahs’ top brass are confident for the future of the union after a significant sponsorship boost for their academy.
The Cheetahs’ sponsors, Toyota SA, on Friday announced an expanded investment in the Cheetahs Academy.
The Cheetahs Academy was launched in 2015, but has now received a significant financial boost aimed at enhancing the development of rugby in the region.
“Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM) believes that ‘sports legends are made - not born’. Therefore a commitment is required to honing local talent - not just for future Cheetahs players, but for the development of rugby in our country as a whole,” Lettie Labuschagne, the general manager of marketing and communications at Toyota SA, said at a press conference at Free State Stadium on Friday.
She continued: “Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM) is pleased to announce a further investment as the full naming rights partner to the Toyota Cheetahs Academy. Toyota SA, over the past seven years, has cemented its support and commitment to both the Cheetahs and the Free State. The sponsorship has created incredible opportunities for Toyota SA to interact with not only Cheetahs fans but rugby supporters in and across South Africa. The sponsorship now extends even further by investing in the young talent and helping the Toyota Cheetahs to develop the rugby and life skills of our future Cheetahs and Springboks.”
Sport24 understands that the deal is worth R2 million and runs until 2019 to tie in with the main sponsorship of the Cheetahs. The money will go towards the upgrading of equipment and facilities and also the sponsorship of 10 players.
The Cheetahs Academy has since its inception in 2015 delivered top quality players for the Cheetahs senior team.
In 2016, when the Free State Cheetahs won the Currie Cup competition, no fewer than seven of the Currie Cup winners came through the Cheetahs academy system.
Recent Springbok representatives from this academy include Oupa Mohoje and Raymond Rhule.
Franco Smith, the Cheetahs’ director of rugby, also commented: “The whole theme of this academy is that it’s a breeding ground of opportunity. We decided a couple of years ago to follow a certain root to develop our own players, to give more players an opportunity at the Cheetahs. I think in the last two and a half years we’ve established a brand and a way of play which I think a lot of people enjoy - we definitely became everybody’s second team again.”
Harold Verster, managing director of the Cheetahs, added: “The Cheetahs has long been the ‘conveyer belt’ of Springboks thanks to a healthy junior system. The Cheetahs Academy is a critical part of our business. This investment from Toyota will give us even more opportunities to develop young players to represent the proud Cheetah brand, as well as the Springbok brand in future. We’d like to thank our sponsor and partner - Toyota SA!”