Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Francois Pienaar relives ‘Madiba magic’ of 1995

Pienaar recalled the moment when Mandela walked onto the Ellis Park field ahead of the Springboks' final at the Rugby World Cup, wearing a replica of Pienaar's number six jersey.

"On the 24th of June last month I became very emotional because that morning I got word that Madiba's health deteriorated, and that was 18 years ago that Madiba walked out on the green grass of Ellis Park Stadium in front of 65 000 people," Pienaar said.

"Later that afternoon for the first time in the history of this country people in the cities, in the towns, in the villages gushed out onto the streets of South Africa in celebration.

"It was the first time that we became world champions, which was an incredible moment."

Pienaar was speaking at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Houghton, Johannesburg this week, where ministers and members of the sporting fraternity delivered a pledge and messages of support for Mandela.

"We would not have had that if it was not for Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela that asked everyone in this country to support the Springboks and embrace them as our team with the slogan 'one team, one nation'," he said.

"Madiba said profound words: 'Sport has the power to change the world and it has the power to unite people in a way that little else does'.

"Sport can awaken hope where there previously was despair, and if we look at our young democracy and what sport has done for our nation, it's been incredible," Pienaar said.

"But you have to have a leader with the vision of Nelson Mandela, and I am very blessed to have shared a platform with him."

Eternal memory
Pienaar said he was left with the eternal memory of Mandela presenting him with the William Web Ellis trophy. The statesman punched the air as the Springbok captain raised the trophy.

"I will never forget that beautiful smile on that day and his hands in the air when we won," he said.

The country will once again be asked to unite for a sporting event following the launch of Nelson Mandela Sports Day, which the sport and recreation department announced earlier on Thursday.

The event will see the Springboks and Bafana Bafana playing against Argentina and Burkina Faso respectively at the FNB Stadium on August 17.

On February 3 1996, Mandela appeared in a replica of Bafana captain Neil Tovey's number nine jersey at FNB Stadium. The national soccer team went on to beat Tunisia 2-0 and claim the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations title.

Tovey paid homage to Mandela.

"When I was playing club football that was all we could aspire to and then suddenly the doors to international sport were open to us," Tovey said.

"Madiba has created that environment for us to perform and to put South Africa on the international map."

Tovey said the sports day was an example of what South Africans were capable of doing when they united behind a cause.

"It will be a huge occasion and it is typical of what South Africa is about. We are able to do the impossible in celebration of Madiba."

Pienaar believed the initiative could become one of the biggest sporting events in the world.

"Again South Africa, we are the first. It will be the first time that soccer and rugby will share the same arena in front of this nation," Pienaar said.

"We will share cultural events, and in time can you imagine what this event can become in saying thank you Madiba?" – Sapa

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

Fears of violence persist a year after the murder of...

The court battle to stop coal mining in rural KwaZulu-Natal has heightened the sense of danger among environmental activists

Data shows EFF has lower negative sentiment online among voters...

The EFF has a stronger online presence than the ANC and Democratic Alliance

More top stories

Mkhize throws the book at the Special Investigating Unit

It’s a long shot at political redemption for the former health minister and, more pressingly, a bid to avert criminal charges

Pockets of instability in Kenya are underpinned by unequal development

Stability in Kenya hinges on a just, equitable distribution of resources, and a commitment to progress human development for the marginalised

Eastern Cape premier Mabuyane lives large amid province’s poverty

Oscar Mabuyane and MEC Babalo Madikizela allegedly used a portion of state funds for struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s commemoration for their own benefit

Constitutional court confirms warrantless searches in cordoned off areas unconstitutional

The law was challenged in response to raids in inner Johannesburg seemingly targeting illegal immigrants and the highest court has pronounced itself 10 days before an election in which then mayor Herman Mashaba has campaigned on an anti-foreigner ticket
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×