/ 4 July 2013

Mbalula: Nelson Mandela sports day to carry Madiba legacy

Minister of Sports Fikile Mbalula honours Springbok player Bryan Habana.
Minister of Sports Fikile Mbalula honours Springbok player Bryan Habana.

"As we continue to soldier on to celebrate his legacy, these are the things he lives for: like the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund and the Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital," Mbalula said at the launch of the initiative in Johannesburg on Thursday.

"He did not do those things for himself, he did them to make a difference for others and that is what we must carry on as a people."

The Springboks and Bafana Bafana will play international matches against Argentina and Burkina Faso at FNB Stadium on August 17, which is Nelson Mandela sports day – the brainchild of the sports and recreation department.

Mbalula said the proceeds from the day, which would include a concert after the Springbok match would go towards the Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital.

Tickets went on sale on Thursday at a cost of R220 to R2 500.

A curtain-raiser match would be played between the Italian and South African masters' football teams.

Mbalula praised
South African Rugby Union president Oregan Hoskins praised Mbalula's efforts to honour Mandela.

While it was a difficult decision for the Free State Rugby Union to sacrifice the Boks' rugby championship match, which they were scheduled to host in Bloemfontein, it was for the greater good.

"The rewards far outweigh the sacrifices, because we are doing something for someone who saved our sport and saved our society," Hoskins said.

"We can actually do so much more than play on August 17 at FNB Stadium."

Bafana coach Gordon Igesund said he would not have thought that an international rugby and soccer derby would be played on the same day at the same venue.

"One must not forget the reason why we are doing it. We are celebrating Nelson Mandela, who is not well at the moment," Igesund said.

"Our prayers are with him and it is a great occasion."

Mbalula honours Bryan Habana
Meanwhile, Mbalula honoured Springbok wing Bryan Habana for becoming the first Springbok to score 50 tries in Tests for his country.

Habana was presented with a cheque of R50 000 for reaching this milestone.

In showing his support for the initiative, Habana donated the money to the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund.

"To be able to score 50 Test tries for my country is something really special, and to be recognised for that fact is a huge honour and I am truly humbled by the gesture by the minister," Habana said.

"Hopefully, I won't stop at 50 tries and [will] score more in the green and gold, and hopefully I've inspired a little boy here or there."

Habana reached the milestone two weekends ago when he scored twice against Samoa in the incoming series decider at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.

He became only the sixth player in the history of the game to score 50 Test tries.

Habana said the Nelson Mandela sports day would bring more people together in support of two different sports codes.

The national netball team was also recognised for winning the continental netball title. – Sapa