Keep Dreaming, Keep Believing: Rugby skipper Kolisi tells South African children

Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe, who scored the Springboks’ tries in Saturday’s final against England, were among the first group of players to land at OR Tambo Airport.

King Kolisi arrives





South Africa’s Rugby World Cup winning captain Siya Kolisi urged underprivileged children in the country to “keep dreaming and keep believing” as he carried the Webb Ellis trophy through thousands of fans on the team’s return home on Tuesday.



Kolisi led the Springboks to victory in Japan when they beat England 32-12 in the final in Yokohama on Saturday, a third title for the country after 1995 and 2007, and the first under a black captain.



His rags-to-riches tale has been inspirational for many, and the raucous welcome the side received showcased the full range of the Rainbow Nation as fans from all walks of life spent hours waiting for a glimpse of the players as they emerged in groups from different flights.



The biggest cheer was reserved for Kolisi, who grew up in an impoverished township and has written his name not only into rugby folklore but also into the history of South Africa as a beacon of hope for those who face a bleak future.



“The kids must keep dreaming and keep believing,” he told reporters. “Anything can be overcome. When I was young, I was just focused on going to training each day, preparing myself for the opportunity just in case it ever came.



“I am proof it can be done. We don’t want it to be so tough for anybody else, we want to make it easier in the future.”



Kolisi said the players felt the support from back home during their time in Japan, with a TV screen in their hotel constantly replaying videos from fans, or images of ordinary South Africans celebrating their victories.



First batch arrives



Members of South Africa’s Rugby World Cup-winning team arrived home on Tuesday and thousands greeted them with a huge cheer at Johannesburg’s international airport.



Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe, who scored the Springboks’ tries in Saturday’s final against England, were among the first group of players to land at OR Tambo Airport.



As he emerged into view in the arrivals hall, Mapimpi held his hands up and clasped them together as the crowd roared. Kolbe was recording the scenes on his cellphone.



Teammate Damien de Allende, with his gold medal draped round his neck, pumped his arms in the air in front of the fans wearing Springboks jerseys who packed the hall. Duane Vermeulen, the player of the match in the final, dished out high fives to fans.



People were also crammed together on the balconies overlooking the arrivals area — there was no room to move anywhere — and a giant South African flag hung on one wall. The smiling players had to be shepherded through the crowd by a police escort.



Mapimpi’s inspirational story



Mapimpi, like Kolisi, provided one of the heartwarming stories for the South Africa team. He grew up poor, went to an unfashionable school, and was overlooked for all of South Africa’s youth teams and only made his international debut last year at the age of 27.



He scored six tries at the Rugby World Cup in Japan, the second-highest number at the tournament, including South Africa’s first in a final.



“It’s amazing for me. I’m proud of myself, I’m proud of the team, I’m proud of the South African people, I’m proud of my fans, I’m proud of my family,” Mapimpi said. “I don’t have a lot of words. I don’t know what I can say. It’s amazing.”



Flanked by South Africa’s minister of sports at the official arrival news conference, Mapimpi also made the politician gasp — and his teammates chuckle — when he uttered an expletive on live TV while remembering a grueling fitness session in the buildup to the World Cup.



Springboks receive support from stars



He added that the team had also been inspired by messages from tennis great Roger Federer, whose mother was born in South Africa, and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.



“I am a huge Federer fan, so when he sent the message it was special. Tom Brady as well, that was amazing for us as a team.”



What next



The Boks’ next encounter will be against an as yet unnamed opponent in the 2020 June International window, and Kolisi is hopeful that the core of the World Cup-winning side will be kept together.



“We would love to stay together as a team, but that will be down to the coach. A lot of us have committed to staying in South Africa for that,” Kolisi said.



Inspired by the story of Kolisi, who rose from a poor township to lift rugby’s biggest prize, the Springboks of 2019 have been compared to the team of 1995, which won South Africa’s first World Cup at home in front of Nelson Mandela nearly a quarter of a century ago. South Africa also won the World Cup in France in 2007.



Kolisi’s team has returned home to countrywide celebrations and will take the World Cup on a five-day tour of the nation starting on Thursday.



Agencies

Subscribe
Notify of
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Senegalese allege racism in Diack corruption verdict

Dakar residents alleged racism and said Wednesday’s verdict by a Paris court was unjust.

Senegal and the sporting world has been shaken after the former head of the world athletics body, Lamine Diack, was found guilty of corruption by a Paris court.

Residents in Dakar alleged racism and said Wednesday's verdict by a Paris court was unjust.

"As a Senegalese, I think it was an injustice to condemn him. African people are tired because if Lamine Diack was a white person, he would not be sued, arrested," said Cheriphe Toure.

"It is not normal, he is a Senegalese, he is about 80 years old and they want to put him in prison, he is tired. The trial (against Diack) is not a real trial, it's just politics."

Lamine, an 87-year-old Senegalese, was charged for his role in a scheme that allowed Russian athletes to pay bribes to keep competing when they should have been suspended for doping after they paid bribes.

Prosecutors said Diack solicited $5.5 million in bribes and paid off other officials at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to help with the cover-up.

The court handed Diack a four-year prison sentence, two years of which are suspended and a fine of $590,000.

He was also ordered to pay €5 million in damages to World Athletics (formerly IAAF) with his son and co-accused, Papa Massata Diack.

From 1999-2015 Diack was the head of the IAAF and was influential in the world of Olympic sports.

Diack's lawyers said they would appeal the verdict.

"I think if the law is valid in France, it will be overturned because it's really unfair," Abdoulaye Diagne, Coordinator of the support committee for Lamine Diack.

Africans Marking Football Around the Globe

A brief spotlight on some notable African players making an impact on international football.

Riyad Mahrez, hailing from Algeria - the Manchester City star has tested positive for coronavirus, according to the club’s spokesperson. Although asymptomatic, he is currently self-isolating.

The 29-year old 2016 Best African Player titleholder, is due to begin the Premier League season with the team's first fixture on September 21st. As yet, it is still unclear as to when he contracted the virus and whether he will be able to play.

Ansu Fati, the football prodigy born in Guinea Bissau, broke a 95-year record after only 311 days - as at just 17 years old he has become the youngest ever goal-scorer of the Spanish National Team.

The next Lionel Messi?

He made his historical mark in the winning 4 nil match against Ukraine in the UEFA Nations League on Sunday.

After he became Barcelona’s youngest goalscorer in La Liga last season and the youngest to ever score in the European Champions League, he is viewed by many as the next Lionel Messi.

Cedric Bakambu continues to shine in China. The Congolese striker added a new goal to his 2020 collection a week after scoring 4 goals in a single game.

Despite a 2-goal lead against Wuhan Zall, his team Beijing Guoan had to concede a 2-2 draw. This was thanks to a late equaliser from the other African star of the league, Ivorian striker, Jean Evrard Kouassi.

Drogba’s FIF Presidential Candidacy Bid Rejected

Didier Drogba has been announced unsuccessful at filing a FIF presidential candidacy bid.

Access Denied

International football star, Didier Drogba, received some bad news on Thursday when the Electoral Commission of the Ivorian Soccer Federation (FIF) rejected his candidacy for the presidency of the federation. "The electoral commission (...) rejects the candidacy of Mr. Drogba Tébily Didier Yves Tébily," reads a section of Article 5 of the negative decision of the commission.

Rejected but with the possibility to appeal

This rejection was based on criticisms of the former striker for several eligibility requirement breaches and highlights the challenges the star faced in trying to establish himself within the Ivorian football industry in spite of his international status, athletic track record and personal wealth — and beyond just being a player on the field.

Eligibility Requirements

Drogba, who was partly trained in France and once played for European clubs, Chelsea and Marseille, only managed to obtain sponsorship of two first division clubs — one short of the three required.

Although he does, in fact, have three club sponsors on file, the third technically did not count as it came by way of the vice-president and not the president himself who gave his support to the president of the League, Sory Diabaté (who boasts the support of six Division 1 clubs).

Interest groups also must follow the same rules as each candidate is required to obtain sponsorship of at least one of five in particular. Drogba was unable to garner support from neither the Alumni Association nor the Ivorian Players Association.

Likewise, on file, he did have the support of the association of referees (AMAF). However, it was a similar situation of falling short by a technicality as "the sponsorship" was from a person "who does not have the capacity to legally commit the AMAF," according to the electoral commission.

Public and Peer Opinion

One of the most famous and celebrated public Ivorian personalities, Didier Drogba, has been a treasure to the country's national football team and has received from many of his former teammates and peers such as Eugène Diomande, the Yaya and Kolo Touré brothers, Aruna Dindane and many others.

Many fans and peers still support Drogba

On the other hand, some of his other industry colleagues have shown support for Idriss Diallo, the former 3rd vice-president of the Fif (supported in particular by the current vice-president of the Fif), such as Cyril Domoraud, Bonaventure Kalou or Ahmed Ouattara.
Still more colleagues such as Didier Zokora, Youssouf Fofana and Abdoulaye Traore (known as Ben Badi) supported the president of the League, Sory Diabaté.

The Ivorian football icon has five days to make an appeal to the governing commission.

US Black Pro Athletes Boycott Games to Say #BLM

Pro athletes in the United States are protesting African-American man Jacob black being shot seven times by police while unarmed.

“Black Lives Matter,” a message being reiterated by professional athletes across diverse sports in the United States as stadiums see some players showing visual displays of solidarity while others are refusing to play at all as a form of protest

Basketball games were postponed as the league grappled to handle the player boycotts inspired by the most recent known racially-charged incident of 29-year-old African American Jacob Blake who was shot seven times by police officers in Wisconsin. Milwaukee Bucks led the boycott, opting out of their playoff against the Orlando Magic. The game's governing body, the NBA, later announced in a Tweet that the other matches in the series had been postponed.

Black athletes in the USA stage protest against police brutality

Three major league baseball matches were called off. The Mets clash with Miami Marlins went ahead but one player staged his own protest. Dominic Smith, New York Mets player, tearfully expressed his frustrations, "People still don't care. For this to continuously happen, it just shows just the hate in people's heart. That just sucks. Being a black man in America, it's not easy."

In addition to baseball, even tennis saw half Haitian-American champion Naomi Osaka withdraw from a major tournament to support the movement as more and more athletes use their platforms to fight racial injustice in the country.

A series of events that are reminiscent of the now blackballed American football player, Colin Kaepernick, who took a stand against police brutality against black people in the nation by taking a knee in 2016 — in line with the Black Lives Matter movement.

A dynamic movement birthed in 2013 by three black women — Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, to combat police brutality taking black lives.

Numerous black people die in incidents of police brutality each year in the USA

The #BLM hashtag has since been revived tenfold on a global scale following the slayings by the police of George Floyd and Breona Taylor in the Spring of 2020 in the United States with protests occurring across the globe demanding an end to racial injustice suffered by black people in every sphere of life.

The recent athlete boycott in the United States in a show of solidarity with the movement is yet another step in the global marathon towards true racial equality.

Fans react as Football star Lionel Messi triggers Barca departure

After nearly two decades with the Spanish giants, Lionel Messi has told Barcelona he wants to leave the club.

Some fans are protesting. But these are not the usual protesters you'd find on a political train. They are football lovers gathered outside their favourite club Camp Nou to clamour for their idol to stay.

After nearly two decades with the Spanish giants, Lionel Messi has told Barcelona he wants to leave the club.

The club confirmed on Tuesday the Argentine sent a document expressing his desire to activate a release clause that would end his contract.

"The strange thing is that he has not left the club before. It is absolutely disgraceful what this board of directors have been doing since 2010. Even with Sandro Rosell, before the arrival of Bartomeu. They have lost all valuable things at the club. Guardiola, (Johan) Cruyff and now Messi. So this ends with Messi leaving and a shameful 8-2 defeat (against Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League)." 25 year old Adria Corchero, a journalist and fan of Messi said.

For Sergi Riera, a 36-year-old restaurant worker, "this cannot just be allowed. Because in the end, Messi is the little happiness that we can have right now. They must do something. They should resign and try to talk to him tomorrow (Wednesday). Anything."

Baracelona have not officially replied yet but are understood to be preparing one.

The announcement comes 11 days after Barcelona's humiliating 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals, one of the worst defeats in the player's career and in the club's history.

The defeat capped a difficult season for Barcelona - the first without a trophy since 2007-08 - and ignited one of their worst crises ever.

Messi has won a record six Ballon d'Or awards during his time at Barcelona as the top player in the world, and has helped the club win 10 Spanish league titles and four Champions Leagues.

Any club in the world, surely, would jump at the opportunity to recruit the Argentine superstar, but it remains to be seen what club can afford him and where indeed hed love to go.