Open letter to South Africa’s students‚ universities and government‚ represented by Minister in the .
Fifteen months ago they were derided as palookas when they lost in Australia.
Their leader was repeatedly reprimanded as a "loose cannon" by his various bosses, culminating with his mid-tour recall to South Africa when the team was struggling during a British Isles campaign.
Yesterday all was forgotten when they arrived at the OR Tambo airport. They were treated to a rapturous welcome by thousands of very happy supporters. Deservedly so.
The young men who had put their bodies on the line and gave inspired performances at the Rugby World Cup had ignited passions in a nation that was beginning to regard itself as a nation of losers.
I have said it before and I will say it again. I believe it is the singularly determined, focused, methodical approach of Jake White that saw the Springboks win every match and everything at the French instalment of the Rugby World Cup.
That they gave such a gutsy performance on Saturday to win the Webb Ellis Trophy and swept the boards with White and Bryan Habana voted best coach and best player of the tournament, respectively, is testament to the values White instilled in the team.
He apparently told them four years ago, when he took over the team, that they were going to become the next world champions and worked with and on their confidence. Today we are still celebrating thanks to their ambition, inspiration and hard work; the three traits that have now become the trademark character of the Springboks. Where there was despondency and gloom, we now see joy and hope, however short-lived it may be. Let us savour it and draw lessons and inspiration from it.
Earlier this year I attended and participated in a talk that Jake White gave to a group of business executives with the governor of the Reserve Bank, Tito Mboweni. White spoke about his game plan for the Rugby World Cup and Mboweni spoke about the effect of sport on the economy.
The coach spoke so vividly and eloquently about his approach to preparing his players I could almost see it.
He spoke about the physicality of the game and the strengths required and that he was going to take his players off the playing circuit and into the gym for months of muscle and strength building.
Some hotheads were already calling for his head then, saying Jake had lost the plot. But the man was resolute, focused and determined.
The way he convinced his players of their abilities and motivated them to perform at their best is something that must and can be emulated in football.
I wrote last week that achieving something or winning was a habit one had to develop if one was to achieve great things. Our football team should start doing the same when they play against Zambia tonight.
As a nation we should also start expecting great things from ourselves if we are to uproot the scourge of crime and other social ills that give the country and therefore this nation such a bad reputation.
That the world-renowned, widely loved and humble but successful reggae icon, Lucky Dube got brutally killed two days before the great win of the Boks should shame all of us.
We are crying for the loss of a beloved brother through a senseless killing. We hope the new-found energy through the Springbok win can help us change our nation for the better. It's about time.
l Tim Modise is the 2010 World Cup SA Local Organising Committee's head of communications. - For your suggestions, queries and more on 2010 e-mail TimM@2010saloc.com