Burger joins Laureus family
Schalk Burger (Gallo Images)
Soweto - South African rugby stars have taken part in an emotional visit to a ground-breaking community sports project for young people here, supported by the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation.
Schalk Burger, currently injured and not taking part in the current Test series against England, led a group of players from the Springbok squad, including Ryan Kankowski, Dean Greyling, Gio Aplon, Jano Vermaak, Chilliboy Ralepelle and Lwazi Mvovo, to the Soweto Schools Rugby Programme.
Also in the group were young players part of the wider Bok group - Piet van Zyl, Siya Kolisi, Frans Malherbe, Arno Botha and Francois Venter - who seem certain to be part of Springbok teams in the future.
Morné du Plessis, chairperson of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation South Africa and manager of the 1995 Rugby World Cup-winning Springboks side, delighted everyone at the visit when he announced that Burger was to become a global Laureus Ambassador, helping to support the work of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation around the world.
“I would like to congratulate Schalk and thank him for taking this on. I am privileged to know Schalk and his family and to know how much they have contributed to all spheres of society. He is a formidable rugby player and I know he will make a major contribution to Laureus and to the work we do with disadvantaged and at-risk young people," said Du Plessis.
"I would also like to thank the South African players for coming today to Soweto, despite being in the middle of a Test series against England. I know they will have enjoyed at first hand seeing this wonderful project in action, where rugby is playing such an important part in giving so many young people a helping hand in the early years of their lives.”
Burger said it is a huge privilege to join the organisation.
“I’m honoured to join such a prestigious organisation and look forward to helping them with their amazing charitable work. It’s such a privilege to be able to use sport as a tool for changing young people’s lives and I can’t wait to get started. I am sure I speak on behalf of all the Springbok players here today when I say how impressed we were by this project. We all know what great sport rugby is. It’s all about working together as a team and helping each other through difficult situations, so it was very emotional to feel that our sport can be playing such a positive role for good here with the young boys and girls in Soweto. I think the work that the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation does around the world, and particularly in South Africa, is just great and I am delighted to be here today to do what I can to support it," said the Stormers captain.
During the visit, at the Tswelelang Primary School in Meadowlands, Soweto, the excited boys and girls gave their famous guests a rapturous welcome and then took part in series of training drills and a game of touch rugby with them.
The visit took place 48 hours before Youth Day, which commemorates the Soweto uprisings in 1976 and honours young people who lost their lives in the struggle against Apartheid. Du Plessis added: “Youth Day is a very evocative and emotional occasion and particularly here in Soweto. I am grateful that we can enjoy happier times today in our country, but there is still much to do and I pledge that Laureus in South Africa will do everything it can to help our young people.”
The Soweto Schools Rugby Programme addresses the educational inequality in Soweto, using touch rugby as the means to teach disadvantaged young people basic education. The project has been instrumental in raising aspirations and equipping young people with the skills to make a meaningful difference in their community.
It provides a programme called Play 2 Learn, which teaches young people various school subjects while they are having fun playing rugby. In addition to this, the sport of rugby, through its values of teamwork, individual responsibility and respect for the rules, teaches lessons that can be applied to life in general.
The Laureus Sport for Good Foundation South Africa supports 15 projects, including the Soweto Schools Rugby Programme. The others are Buffalo City Soccer, Fight with Insight, Grassroot Soccer, Great Commission United, Indigo Youth Movement, Legends Cup Trust, Little Champs, Lungisani Indlela, Johannesburg Cubs, Makomba Ndlela Youth Movement, PeacePlayers International, PoloAfrica, Sport for All and Waves for Change.
Laureus addresses social challenges through a worldwide programme of sports-related community-development initiatives.