One of the key aims of COSAFA is to leave a legacy wherever tournaments are held, and so it proved again on Thursday as six teams embarked on two CSI missions to show compassion and understanding of the plight of those less fortunate.
The on-going 2017 COSAFA Castle Cup, which will come to completion on Sunday with the final between Zambia and Zimbabwe, has provided the backdrop for the latest opportunity to provide support to the community.
Players from South Africa, Zambia, Tanzania and Lesotho were close to tears when they visited Tapologo Hospice in Phokeng, Rustenburg.
The teams used their off-day at the tournament to participate in COSAFA’s Corporate Social Investment (CSI) drive and Tapologo Hospice was one of the beneficiaries.
The hospice is a centre for youngsters who have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS, and does critical work in the community to not only provide a safe haven for these youngsters, but also, for some suffering from the disease, a place to die with dignity.
As Bishop Kevin Dowling welcomed the teams, he touched on aspects of the centre’s work, where he spoke about the dire state in which people arrive at the hospice.
But one story that touched the players and staff from COSAFA was the death of a young girl.
“She was the sweetest young girl,” Dowling said. “On her last day she died with a bible lying on her chest after she instructed us to call her Gogo (grandmother).
“She asked us to call her granny because she wanted to say ‘goodbye’ as she felt she was going to die.”
The coaches from the teams later handed out some memorabilia in the form of signed jerseys and groceries to the home.
COSAFA also donated 70 jackets to the hospice for the use by their staff as they head out into communities in all weather to give comfort to the sick and dying.
Also in keeping with the tradition of giving back to community, COSAFA donated welding equipment worth R20 000 to the Reoleboge Special School in Moruleng, which caters for intellectually disabled students.
A touching moment engulfed the occasion as the teams of both Zimbabwe and Namibia, who brought along their full squads, also respectively chipped in with R3000 and R6000 cash donations after being moved by the plight of the students, who are being tutored in various sports and life-skills, which include fashion and designing, gardening, welding, electrics, music and embroidery.
COSAFA secretary-general Sue Destombes, instrumental in initiating the CSI programme that has previously benefited communities in Zambia, Namibia and the North West Province, led the delegation.
Destombes was also touched to see the Warriors of Zimbabwe and Brave Warriors of Namibia come together with the cash donation that was unsolicited, with the players and their coaches adding colour to the events as they mingled and mixed with the staff and students from the school.
“It never ceases to amaze when you see the outpouring and generosity of the teams that are here and the gesture that was unsolicited by Zimbabwe to make a cash donation, which Namibia then doubled.
“I think this school needs to be put on the map as they strive to service the community,” Destombes said.
There was also a presentation of soccer balls by COSAFA, with the two players who have struck hat-trick so far in this competition – Ovidy Karuru and Knox Mutizwa of Zimbabwe – being handed the privilege to present the balls.
The two sets of players also took time to pose for photographers, present an autographed jersey (from Zimbabwe) and a replica jersey from the Namibians.
A delegation from COSAFA, led by General Secretary Sue Destombes, donated much-needed welding equipment to the Reoleboge Special School in Moruleng.