An ordinary Tuesday morning in Mossel Bay turned into an extraordinary moment as the learners of Ridgeview Primary School were given a powerful message of hope before the start of this week’s Vodacom Origins of Golf Final on the Sunshine Tour.
The Sunshine Tour – which is hosting a tournament at Pinnacle Point Golf Estate this week – partnered with Vodacom, Eagle Towers, the Skills Development Corporation, and SAIL to sponsor rugby, soccer and netball balls provided by the Living Ball initiative for the school. But a single morning in a community where the poverty is obvious but the enthusiasm to dream big is just as resonant, touched more than just the learners in the school hall.
“I also grew up poor,” Sunshine Tour professional Hennie Otto, a multiple winner of professional tournaments around the world, told the audience. “I was raised by my ouma and oupa. My ouma used to darn the holes in my socks. The only jerseys I wore were the ones my ouma knitted for me. But I have realised my dream of becoming a professional golfer. I once even beat Tiger Woods. My message to you is to go out there and believe in yourselves no matter where you come from.”
Dr Ntombi Mhangwani, Executive Head: Marketing Vodacom Business, said they were proud to support a community that supports them as a business.
“These kids come from homes that support Vodacom. Their parents use Vodacom connectivity. We have a responsibility as Vodacom that whenever we move around with our partners on the Sunshine Tour, to make sure we are engaging with the communities that build us as an organisation. We need to make sure we are also building them as a community. Vodacom wants to be part of a community that hangs onto dreams and hope, and we want to build these kids.”
The simple gasps of joy from a child receiving a soccer or rugby ball certainly resonated with the other business leaders who were present.
“Hope is important for everybody in our country at the moment. I came from very humble beginnings as one of five children in a home in Jamestown near Stellenbosch. We planted strawberries and cleaned dams, fetched water ourselves. Our school didn’t have enough classrooms so we’d sit on logs in the pine forest. It was my job to carry the blackboard and lean it against a tree. But our parents instilled in us a sense of achieving our goals. I started my business in a room in my house. My dad was fortunate to see the legacy of all five of his children become working professionals before he passed away two months ago,” said Avril van der Rheede, CEO of Eagle Towers.
Jaco Beukes, the CEO of SAIL, said he was touched by what he experienced.
“It is so humbling to see all of these children so excited about the lives ahead of them and enthusiastic despite their circumstances. This message of hope from Living Ball doesn’t mean life will be easy, but it gives them the tools to overcome the challenges.”
Sharlton Groenewald, the school principal, expressed his gratitude for not only the donation, but the message the learners received.
“We are a no-fee school so we don’t have extra money to pay for balls for the kids to use in sport. The message for our learners that there is hope despite the circumstances they live in is such an important one. For them to hear from people who came out of similar circumstances and became a success is great motivation for them and we’re so grateful for this.”
And Thomas Abt, Commissioner of the Sunshine Tour, ended with a very simple message of his own to the learners.
“You now have soccer balls, rugby balls and netball balls, and I want to encourage you – take that ball and run with it. Just as you take your dreams and run with them.”
Photo Living Ball 1: Sunshine Tour professional Hennie Otto with some of the learners of Ridgeview Primary School receiving the Living Ball sports balls.