He is standing in big boots, having to take over from World cup winning, Jake White. Some people are saying he has to prove himself to be a worthy selection, over Super 14 winner, Heynecke Meyer. For others he is simply an unknown Bolander. Many images, interpretations and expectations will follow the new Springbok coach. Afrikaans Sunday, newspapers also have their say. Typically and sadly so, not surprising, they portray his selection in controversy and suspicion. Media coverage of the reaction of only one of his contenders, the pole from a handful of anonymous players, indicating a lukewarm reception seems to be the only way in which his appointment is greeted. But is this the true story, the real and complete story ?
Having listened up in the North to various radiostations, within a majority black market, the antics of Steven Pienaar, in anticipation for the AFCON competition seems to have eclipsed this announcement. The reason for this is however that rugby has been rejected by the majority of black people as a white racist sport. This however doesn't mean that black people don't play or support rugby at all. In only indicates the 'success' of the Afrikaans media on portraying the myth that rugby is a white sport and soccer, a black sport. This is however not the case and never was. The appointment of De Villiers, is in line with a long history of non-racial sport, under the SACOS banner, which has seen scores of talented young people, attaining their provincial and national colours, under apartheid. Where the issue of his appointment were raised on these radio stations it was welcomed with elation and much expectation. Why ?
De Villiers is a salutary reminder of a history unknown, yet a proud and living history in the memories of our most tallented, coloured and black sportsmen and women, of old. Their legacy, continued in our clubs, provincial and national teams today are revived as we see our children, white and black reaching their potential.
On 2 Jan 2008, I was sitting on Newlands, watching the Proteas-Windies game, with two teachers in our rural areas in the Boland. They were telling the stories of how de Villiers is still (last year, 2007 )involved in these schools amongst young boys, from under resourced, farmschools. They were recounting the stories of how he still remains, at heart, a primary schoolteacher caring for the poorest of the poor.
Bra Peter, you don't have to prove yourself to us or anyone. By dreaming big dreams, by developing our young people, irrespective of where they come from, to achieve their potential, by standing tall, you have already made us proud. Your achievements amongst these, are what we support and celebrate.
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