by DIKELEDI NOKWANE
JOHANNEBSURG – DEEPLY disheartened by the divisions besetting fans of the two most popular sports in the sport-mad country-rugby and football-a South Africa man has come up with a unique way of uniting the two sports and their sets of fans.
The formation of Soccer Rugby is Respect Dube’s contribution to unite the country that has a cruel past but has used the most of the popularity and power of sport to unite even the worst of adversaries.
A marriage of two of the nation’s biggest sports has culminated in the formation of the Soccer Rugby Sports Federation (Sorusfe), which has received wide endorsement locally.
Founded in Sedibeng south of Johannesburg and governed with a unique set of rules, teams from both opponents include six soccer players and an equal number of players battling it out for 80 minutes.
Team work plays an important role as the players are heavily reliant on each other to ferry the ball to the goal posts. The match outcome is determined by tallying the scores for rugby tries and football goals.
Hopes are high the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will recognise the sport, paving way for arguably the first locally-founded sport to be played at the Olympic Games.
Currently in its infant stages, the sport requires immense development, endorsement and national support.
Its development calls for hefty funds.
The appeasing of the criteria for the sport to be developed requires adoption by and to be played in six South African provinces, 25 African countries and 15 other countries globally.
Local iconic sports stars such as ex-women’s footballer, Nthabiseng Precious Nyambose, and 2008 Beijing Olympian, Norman Dlomo, have endorsed and are actively part of the team.
Nyambose is currently a coach of Sorusfe.
“It is an honour and blessing to be part of this new sport. I believe and hope lives will be changed worldwide by this sport,” she said.
Dlomo has assumed a role as Athletes Commission Chairperson.
“I believe this new sporting code is a unique invention. The nice thing is it was invented in South Africa by South Africans for the world to enjoy,” said Dlomo.
He encouraged South Africans, particularly the youth, to support and participate in the sport. Dlomo trains diverse age groups.
Another member heavily involved in Cindy Xaba, who is the vocalist and cheerleader of the federation.
Songs have been recorded to promote the sport and play at matches.
Local youth in Sedibeng have recorded some tracks and choreographed some dance routines.
“I am pleasantly surprised by the support received thus far. At first I was amazed when I was introduced to the sport but as it was explained further I gained more understanding and interest,” Xaba said.
Bright Mkhaliphi Dube, son of the inventor of the sport, who acts as head of merchandise, has hailed progress by the federation despite the odds stacked against it.
“It has been a very tough and a long journey for us to develop the sport this far as the projects are very demanding and in depth all the time, especially without any funding, donations, grants or support from any corporate or public entities,” he said.
Sorusfe believes the amalgamated sport can foster unity in the country, with the two sports having previously played a key role in advancing cohesion during the infant stage of the country’s democracy.
Over 20 years ago, the founding father of the country’s democracy, Nelson Mandela, inspired unity by making grand appearances at the Rugby World Cup and Africa Cup of Nations (football) which the country won.
“Soccer rugby is an exciting social cohesion sporting code that will unite the nation further and create a proudly South African brand that will in future be exported to the rest of the world,” said Doctor Motaung, Sorusfe Development Director.
Dube, the founder, described the sport as a legacy for the youth and the country.
“Mine is a simple request. I urge South Africans and Africans to take ownership of the new soccer rugby sporting code and develop the structures for the sport for the benefit of current and future generations whilst making history,” he said.
Global respect beckons for soccer rugby unifier
by DIKELEDI NOKWANE