Over the recent HSBC Sevens weekend more than 58 000 people descended on the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium to experience international rugby at its fast-paced best, but for 80 children from Ithembelihle Comprehensive School in New Brighton, the magic lay in what is their first-ever experience of rugby from within the new stadium.
Caltex Eastern Cape Marketer (CECM), in a move that showcased its commitment to uplifting the Eastern Cape’s social and economic, offered the children – many of them aspiring young rugby players – the once in a lifetime opportunity to attend the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens.
The heart-warming initiative was made possible through a joint effort between Caltex Eastern Market Marketer, Crusaders Rugby Club and Ithembelihle Comprehensive School. The tickets and meals for the children were donated by CECM, while the school assisted with transport to the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
CECM recently signed a two year agreement with the Crusader Rugby Club to assist with the development of the young rugby players from Ithembelihle Comprehensive School who have shown potential to progress to club level and beyond. The top players are assisted with housing, good nutrition and transport.
CECM Chief Executive, Clive Berlyn, said he hoped that the exposure to top level rugby would inspire the young rugby players to strive for improvement despite their often challenging circumstances.
“As part of the initiative, we hosted rugby clinics run by the players and coaches of the Crusaders Rugby Club and its partners. The number of young rugby players who arrived for the clinics exceeded our expectations and we felt that their enthusiasm and commitment deserved some reward,” said Berlyn.
Berlyn said that CECM focuses their corporate social initiatives on education and sport because of their belief in building future leaders. The company’s outreach initiatives include soccer and netball tournaments in the Eastern Cape, and the annual Winter Woolies drive in partnership with the Community Chest.
“We support initiatives that stimulate and grow the economy of the Eastern Cape and we actively seek out local suppliers to do business with. We hope to inspire other local companies to adopt the same support for major events in the city and the region to further contribute toward the growth of our regional economy,” Berlyn added.
Crusaders Rugby Club president, Andre Rademan, said that he was overwhelmed by the impact the experience of watching a Sevens game had on the children.
“It was touching to see how much these children enjoyed the experience, which many of them probably would not have been able to afford under normal circumstances. It is so humbling to see Caltex spread the spirit of Ubuntu during this time that we are mourning the loss and celebrating the life of Nelson Mandela, a man who stood for uplifting the lives of the community,” said Rademan.
Rademan said he has come across a great deal of talent at the school, and hopes to groom the young players and to afford them with the opportunity to pursue rugby on a professional level.
Stadium chief executive, Chantal Du Pisani, said the initiative was “heart-warming”. “This is exactly the kind of corporate commitment we need to change the city and grow exposure to and support of sport and events in Nelson Mandela Bay. As the stadium team we are willing to work closely, as we did with Caltex, with companies that are willing to go the extra mile and contribute to changing our social landscape. Caltex’s contribution is incredibly heart-warming.”