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DAVID MASOMA | Springboks triumph teaches us how to be a winning nation

South Africans from all walks of life celebrate the Springboks’ Rugby World Cup triumph during the team’s victory parade in an open top bus in Soweto last week.
South Africans from all walks of life celebrate the Springboks’ Rugby World Cup triumph during the team’s victory parade in an open top bus in Soweto last week.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi

The speech delivered by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday, October 29, prodded or incited me to reflect deeply about the notion of winning and its implication for our nation.

The idea of winning inspires confidence and separates the best of the crop from mediocrity, and it has a mobilising and unifying effect because people associate themselves more readily with the winners and less with the failures in support of the dictum that says, “success breeds success ”.

I may add that greatness equally breeds greatness. The Springboks’ Rugby World Cup win has had this unparalleled national impact for South Africans. The nation’s collective consciousness was summoned to its peak. In the words of Ramaphosa: “We marvelled at their resilience and determination to overcome some of the best teams in the rugby world.

“At moments when their cause seemed lost, they fought back, and they emerged victorious. This victory rightfully calls for a moment of national recognition and celebration of our rugby players and their achievements.”

What the nation and world saw and witnessed was the sterling stuff of the team’s character – a product of inner strength, and hours of hard training, and emotional control. For this reason, to appreciate fully the victory of our rugby team is to understand the singleminded determination and commitment to a common goal to win through display of team spirit and organic unity, an expression of superlative coordinated action.

As a nation, we need to draw some lessons from the praxis (theory and practice) of the rugby game and nation building in successfully creating a better future for all. Some of the ingredients include understanding the goal, discipline, teamwork, sacrifice, commitment dependability and excelling in their positions.

One may ask, if we are to become a winning nation, what would be required or what should be done? I suppose the theory and practice of rugby playing is to form the character (excellence) of the rugby player, focusing primarily on action rather than words.

Therefore, the character of a rugby player is exhibited in playing well in the field with a resultant win being the goal. The theory and practice of playing well in the rugby field may assist us to understand how the character of political players in political life of our nation should be shaped if they too desire to play well to make SA a great country.

Although rugby playing and political action are not quite the same in terms of complexity and span of control, the attributes and character of the players in each domain should be shaped in conformity with the task at hand.

If the players in the rugby game can excel in order to make SA great, so also the political representatives should manage our affairs to make SA great. In the same way as we have witnessed the excellence in the Rugby World Cup, so also there is a need to cultivate the character of political players in the political game to exhibit their craft so well in the best interest of the community they serve.

Therefore, the virtues of selflessness, sacrifice and service define the character of the political player whose aim is the good of the community. The Rugby World Cup win should be a teaching aid in church, society and the public sector about the benefits and success of collaborative effort and team action.

In our work, we should be resilient, determined, ooze out the fight-back spirit whenthe going seems tough andemerge victorious. SA is a big rugby field filled with many sporting codes which exemplify our diverse communities, endowed with diverse skills, experience, expertise, knowledge both theoretical and practical, which when used can effectively make SA win.

If all the communities and organisations work collaboratively, the future is bright, considering that destiny has placed us together to affirm the humanity of others and promote their wellbeing.

As Martin Luther King Jr said: “We must learn to live together as brothers (and sisters to make the best of our country) or perish as fools.”

The Springbok rugby team has taught us through their action how we can become a winning nation. Well done Amabhokobhoko.

■ Prof Mosoma is chairperson of the CRL Rights Commission

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