Heritage in sports

nelson mandela and francios pieneer 1995 rugby world cup

Nelson Mandela and Francios Pieneer 1995 rugby world cup

Sports in South Africa unifies millions across the nation who yearn for the same outcome. Among the car hoots, vuvuzelas, ululuation and the songs sung in unison.

Sports have become part of our heritage in many ways. It is obvious when our team or a representative is playing at the national or international stage. An overwhelming spirit of hoping for ours to win lingers throughout the country.  

The mainstream sports in South Africa are rugby, soccer and cricket. However, with every World Cup, One Day International, Olympic event and Soweto Derby, the whole country would be at a standstill. Coming from a segregated country, sports has brought together many, transcending race, language and social status. This unity makes a positive start to the future of many South Africans, who will grow in unity and camaraderie through sports.  

Springbok fans celebrating in Tygervalley watching the World Cup Final game against England Springbok are Champions of World Cup 2019 in Japan. Photographer: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency(ANA)

A momentous event was when the Springbok won the 1995 Rugby World Cup. Nelson Mandela wore the same jersey number as the captain Francois Pienaar. They stood side by side and held up the trophy on South African soil.   

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Soccer was introduced in South Africa in the mid-1800s. It was one of the first sports that had strict rules and regulations. According to South African History Online, the first official rugby match was coordinated in 1862. The match was held in Cape Town. I was played by the army and civil service. Cricket was first organised and played in South Africa on January 5, 1808.   

For hundreds of years before that, natives played many games of their own. According to IOL, the Koi San played diketo, where players grab as many stones as they can. Throw them in the air and try to catch as many as possible in one hand. Zulu teenage boys spent their downtime stick fighting, in between herding. Stick fighting has become an annual event called umgangela. Men come together to stick fight as a way to commemorate King Shaka Zulu. The Traditional Indlamu Festival is another dance event that happens during this time of the year. Another famous game called morabaraba is similar to chess. It needs two players to use stones or bottle caps to move around a board until there’s a winner.

Called Morabaraba, or 12 Men’s Morris, it is a board game that has long been played by cowherds in the rural areas. Picture: S’bonelo Ngcobo

It is imperative for a sportsperson to be a disciplined person for them to achieve their fullest potential. “Sport is part of every man and woman’s heritage and its absence can never be compensated for,” Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the International Olympic Committee, said.