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SA teams do their bit for Mandela Day

Both the Springboks and the Proteas took part in the international Mandela Day campaign.

Juan de Jongh was part of Springbok rugby players who gave 67 minutes of their time in Langa and Eldorado Park on Thursday. Picture: SARU

SPRINGBOKS

A number of Springbok rugby players have given 67 minutes of their time in Langa and Eldorado Park on Thursday as part of the international Mandela Day campaign.

Former South African President Nelson Mandela turned 95 on Thursday, his birthday sparking the usual Mandela Day celebrations and efforts.

The objective of Mandela Day is to inspire individuals to take action to help change the world for the better, and in doing so build a global movement for good. Mandela spent more than 67 years serving his community, his country and the world and the number has become symbolic of how people can do the same.

Springbok captain Jean de Villiers, backs Juan de Jongh and Gio Aplon and loose forward Siya Kolisi spent their 67 minutes at the Siyabulela Primary School in Langa outside Cape Town.

As part of the recently-launched 'Boks for Books' campaign, the four Springbok and DHL Stormers stars read to pupils in the school and participated in a Tag Rugby Clinic.

"Boks for Books is a superb initiative by SARU and it was really humbling to be able to tie it in with giving back on Mandela Day," said De Villiers.

"We're very fortunate that we are able to give back to the people and to serve fellow South Africans, no matter where they are from. I've experienced first-hand how rugby can play a role in uplifting our countrymen and it's something that is very dear to me."

Meanwhile, in Eldorado Park in Soweto, Springbok and Vodacom Bulls loose forwards Pierre Spies and Arno Botha, both currently injured, got their hands dirty by planting trees at Kremetart Park and painting walls at the Andries Meyer Old Age Home.

This was part of a Mandela Day initiative which was organised by Minister of Sport and Recreation, Hon. MP Fikile Mbalula.

"I'm not the world's greatest gardener or painter, but this was a superb opportunity to lend a hand in communities where people are not as fortunate as we are," said Spies.

"By making contributions which may seem small to you, you can make a big difference in the life of others."

PROTEAS

The Proteas made their contribution towards Nelson Mandela Day, when they hosted a coaching clinic for 67 minutes with a group of under-17 cricketers in Colombo on Thursday.

The Proteas are preparing for the first ODI against Sri Lanka taking place on Saturday, but felt it was important to share some "Madiba magic" with young cricket enthusiasts in Sri Lanka.

Proteas captain, AB de Villiers, led the birthday praise for the 95-year-old former statesman: "It was wonderful to be able to contribute to the local community today in celebration of Nelson Mandela's 67 years of service to our country.

These are young aspiring cricketers and I have no doubt that they will carry this experience with them as motivation. They are really talented; I don't know if that's a good thing for South Africa, but Sri Lanka cricket is quite healthy.

"There are no words to describe the impact Madiba has made on us as cricketers and for sport in our country," De Villiers added. "We hope that he is peaceful on this special day of his, and that all South Africans celebrate in a way that would make him proud."

JP Duminy added, "Having this coaching clinic is a small contribution in the bigger context of what Nelson Mandela has done for South Africa."

"It was a great experience interacting with these up and coming cricketers, their enthusiasm and excitement for the game is humbling. I remember being at that age and being consumed by the game, I hope they learnt a lot."

Aaron Phangiso hopes Madiba's legacy lives on forever: "It's a pity that Nelson Mandela day only happens once a year, we should strive to lead the life that Madiba lived at every occasion. Tata is an icon, and he deserves every bit of recognition and adoration that comes his way."

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