By Ronald Peters
When I talk to friends and relatives about the future, the conversations often turn to topics (and sometimes also arguments) regarding hope and despair. And then also to sport. Because in my inner circle, sport is one of the major sources of hope. With increasing political interference in sport in various fields I can understand why people sometimes become somewhat gloomy – but despite ideological agendas threatening sport in South Africa, there is so much to be hopeful about, such as AfriForum Sport.
With AfriForum Sport, this civil rights organisation intends taking the future of sport in our communities in our own hands. In this way, communities themselves will be able to create opportunities for exploiting and developing sports talent and also establish a platform to promote equality and where everybody has access to the necessary resources. By doing this, hope will again be instilled in people of all ages by means of sport.
Thinking back to my childhood days, sport certainly played an integral role in my happiness and the hope for a good future that I started cultivating. As a child, whose first true love undoubtedly was sport, there was no better source of motivation than the thought that I would be able one day to be a member of one of our country’s national teams. One’s total vision for one’s future was founded on sport, and nothing else, apart from food of course, really mattered. Even though this dream unfortunately never materialised, it still played a very important part in acquiring critical skills such as dealing with conflict, teamwork and knowing what it takes to work hard for something you want to achieve, to mention only a few. Sport and other extramural activities also play an integral role in the general well-being of children, and the power of this source of hope should never be underestimated. For this reason, it is important that bodies such as AfriForum Sport, in cooperation with other organisations, ensure that our youth have access to the necessary resources and opportunities.
As I grew older, I could also begin to appreciate the value of sport in developing and establishing friendships and valuable relationships. Furthermore, I could realise that the power of sport is to be found not only in sport as a profession, but also in sport participation at a social and community level. I have personally experienced how many perceptions created by various role-players were affirmed or changed by sport, mostly in a positive way. I have also experienced that people and groups that normally would not get along, were brought together by sport, resulting in future cooperation and growth. In this connection I like referring to a historical event in our country’s sport, when the Springboks once again were crowned as World Cup champions in 2019. For a moment all the challenges and setbacks were forgotten and we all could get together to celebrate this victory. This is a good reflection of the power that sport has in our communities. That is why it is for us at AfriForum Sport of cardinal importance to also develop and promote social sports events in communities.
Unfortunately, we find ourselves in a situation in our country where politicians are not necessarily focused on the positive effect that sport can have in communities and on the development of communities. But we should not give up hope as a result of this, because we never pin all our hopes on individuals – which would simply be irresponsible. AfriForum did see the need and realised that someone had to take the lead to ensure the future of quality and merit with regard to sports in our country. AfriForum Sport’s efforts are bolstered by individuals and organisations who also believe that there still is hope for sport in the country, and this is going to help launch projects that will again give hope to individuals in our communities. We cannot and must not give up. We cannot and must not give up.
Be part of a sports community that builds together. Be part of AfriForum Sport. The ball is in your hands.
Ronald Peters is Manager of AfriForum Sport.