Written by Quintin Coetzee.
The internet has been abuzz over the past few days following on from South Africa’s November 2nd Rugby World Cup 32-12 win against respected rival England. The team is now tied with New Zealand for most World Cup wins, and has become the only team to have won every Rugby World Cup final they have played in. Despite not being a sports fan myself, it is impossible not to have noticed how this momentous event – the third in South Africa’s rugby history – has bridged divides within the country, and brought its residents together in a collective sense of national pride, something which is, much of the time, not nearly as easily found.
Local budget air carrier FlySafair long-standing partnership with the Springboks (our rugby team), which encourages passengers to support the players, no doubt had the World Cup on the minds of many in the run-up to the event. News coverage has been constant. I sit with articles in front of me describing how the upcoming open-top bus tours, which will take the team through major cities including Cape Town, Durban, and Johannesburg, are boosting the morale of residents otherwise preoccupied with thoughts of a stagnant economy and rampant inequality. The power of social marketing has allowed the populace to unite around a common purpose. And perhaps this will be a springboard for continued unity during tough times.
What impresses me most is the collective marketing on behalf of the team, driven by individuals. Locals abound with their own heartfelt dedications to the team and its captain, Siya Kolisi – the first black captain in its history. Residents are putting up banners on their balconies, at their own cost, to congratulate the team. Residents of the Pinelands neighborhood, where Kolisi resides, are reportedly fervently planning (in a Whatsapp group usually reserved for neighborhood policy discussions) a welcome home event, involving lining the streets in green garb – the color of the team. Not only are these folks promoting their team, and their country, but they are also promoting goodwill, which is powerful and cyclical. This is truly a time to be proudly South African.