Thursday, 9 October 2008

South Africa to lose the Springbok?

Apparently the Springbok symbol does not unite South Africans, and it has to go.

This is the opinion of Sports Portfolio Committee chairman, Butana Komphela, who was speaking at the first day of the 2-day Sports Indaba in Durban. He continued, “Minister, I want you to observe the arrogance of white people on the Springbok emblem."

Now I am not sure where Mr Komphela was in 1995 and 2007 – but perhaps I can update him as to what happened…
In 1995, President Nelson Mandela wore Francois Pienaar’s No 7 rugby jersey and witnessed the South African rugby team, the Springboks, win the Rugby World Cup at their first attempt and on home soil. I was in South Africa that day and witnessed South Africans – not of colour, or creed, but as one nation, support 15 men in Green and Gold jerseys beat a team from new Zealand. Our chests filled with pride, as Francois Pienaar proclaimed afterward – “it wasn’t 50,00 South Africans supporting us, it was 43 million”.

And I wonder where Mr Komphela was last year when the Springboks once more lifted the title of “World Champion” – this time on foreign soil? I wasn’t even in the country at the time, but even I know that South Africa was alive with anticipation and electric energy in the week ahead of the Final. Not just some South Africans – ALL South Africans.

Apparently, Johan Prinsloo (Chief Executive of the South African Rugby Union) is “not authorised” to participate in the debate, and the Springbok emblem was never on the agenda to begin with.

Sadly this once again sounds like political forces and a political agenda are being pushed into the realm of sport. It appears to me that Mr Komphela has his own agenda, wanting to remove the Springbok emblem from the rugby team.

To me it is a united team that wins and performs that leads to a unified nation supporting them. Our Olympic athletes went to Beijing and returned with a single silver medal – they participated under the Protea emblem, and South Africans felt embarrassed as results were so poor.
The South African football team are called Bafana Bafana – and cannot even bribe themselves a goal at this stage. Unless they seriously find some talent, they are in severe danger of being a national embarrassment to the sport of football, and on the world’s largest stage.

And yet, the team that has done more to unite black and white South Africans and raise public morale and energy and excitement, is being black listed and called racist because they are wearing the wrong emblem on their jerseys.

Be honest with us Mr Komphela – do you want to rid yourself of the Springbok, or of Rugby?


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