East London - South Africa has had a relatively successful year on the
sporting front - with the exception maybe of the Proteas and Cricket South Africa, who, up until a few
weeks ago, seemed like they didn’t know what to do with themselves on both a
playing and administrative level.
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It was the codes of netball, soccer and rugby that would
give us something to shout about though.
The Proteas netball team reached the bronze medal playoff
of the Netball World Cup in Liverpool this year, losing out to the England
Bafana Bafana did what many thought was the impossible when
they stunned Africa Cup of Nations hosts Egypt to reach the quarter-finals of
this year’s continental showpiece, while Banyana Banyana participated in their
first FIFA Women’s World Cup.
And when nary a betting person gave the Springboks a chance
of winning the Rugby World Cup, the Boks showed us that they had other ideas,
beating England in a stunning final in Japan, eliciting a feel good mood across
So when the annual 10s rugby and netball series descended
onto East London, in the Eastern Cape this past weekend, the temptation was to
conclude that it was due to the recent Boks’ exploits in Japan.
“The majority of us players - who represent various teams
across Super Rugby - come from the Eastern Cape,” said Tera Mtembu, ambassador
for the series, adding, “funny enough, we had this idea before the Rugby World
Cup”, seemingly putting to bed that the idea to bring it to the Eastern Cape
came as a result of the Boks’ exploits in Japan.
“This (Eastern Cape) is the hub of rugby. Rugby in the
province will never die. Hopefully this is the start of something amazing.”
While bad weather threatened the turn-out on Saturday,
thousands of people showed up to the event - which was also graced by World Cup
winners Lukhanyo Am and Makazole Mapimpi.
What the inclement weather did do was disrupt the netball
tournament - with the playoffs being cancelled - resulting in top group winners in
the premier and social league respectively being named overall winners.
On the rugby side of matters, the Old Dalian Union team went
down to Abantwana Bomgquba in the premier league final with Ubumbo winning the
social league final.
Before the tournament proper, players hosted a rugby
coaching clinic for young kids from across the city on Friday.
The message from new addition to the Sharks’ playing stock,
Sikhumbuzo Notshe (on the coaching clinic) was simple: “Hope”.
“The kids must be able to see that they too can be the next
Am or Mapimpi ... I heard a kid asking Lukhanyo why he passed the ball ... these
are the stories they want to hear,” Notshe says, adding that “I was one of them
growing up in Nyanga East in Cape Town, meeting my heroes (at the time).
The social sports event was healthy with competition with 20
rugby teams having participated and 12 on the netball side.