‘Warrior’ Springboks parade World Cup through streets of Soweto

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Springbok captain Siya Kolisi holds up the Web Ellis trophy as the World Cup winning team parades through the streets of Soweto. (AFP)
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Captain Siya Kolisi holds up the Webb Ellis trophy as rugby fans surround the bus carrying the South African Springbok rugby players during a victory parade in Soweto. (AP Photo)
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The Springboks parade through the streets of Johannesburg with the Web Ellis trophy. (AFP)
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Springbok supporters cheer as the South African Rugby team parade through the streets of Pretoria. (AFP)
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Springbok captain Siya Kolisi, left, and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa with the Web Ellis trophy, in Pretoria. (AFP)
Updated 08 November 2019

‘Warrior’ Springboks parade World Cup through streets of Soweto

  • The Springboks’ 32-12 victory against England in Japan has been greeted with joy in South Africa, where rugby was once the preserve of the white minority population
  • Siya Kolisi, the Springboks’ first black Test captain, held the Webb Ellis trophy aloft aboard an open-top bus emblazoned with Rugby World Cup Champions

SOWETO, South Africa: World Cup winners South Africa began their homecoming tour on Thursday with a victory parade steeped in symbolism through the streets of Soweto, the township near Johannesburg where they were once reviled.
The Springboks’ 32-12 victory against England in Japan has been greeted with joy in South Africa, where rugby was once the preserve of the white minority population.
Thousands of South Africans came out to cheer the national team that three decades ago was viewed as a symbol of white aggression as black nationalists fought the brutality of the apartheid regime.
Siya Kolisi, the Springboks’ first black Test captain, held the Webb Ellis trophy aloft aboard an open-top bus emblazoned with “Rugby World Cup Champions.”
“Sport is the real tool that can bring all people together,” Vusi Cele told AFP, watching his “heroes” parade before him.
“We have all races here today,” the out-of-work 42-year-old added.
“If we can support each other through sport, nothing will stand in front of us. We are together as one for ever and ever.”
Another Soweto resident, Elizabeth, aged 80, said: “Today we are one. There is no hatred. I pray it will stay like that.”
Soweto is the home of two of south Africa’s biggest football clubs — (Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates). It was also the former home of Nelson Mandela.
Earlier the victorious Springboks — bar one notable exception — had been to Pretoria where President Cyril Ramaphosa joked he was less popular than Kolisi.
After welcoming the team to Union Buildings, Ramaphosa thanked “our warriors” on behalf of a grateful nation and reflected on the huge popularity of Kolisi.
“They’ve been at war, they won and they brought the World Cup back to South Africa where it belongs,” the president said.
“They put us on the world map. We thank them for the impact that this victory has had in our country ... you’ve lifted the spirit in many people in our country.
“It’s good we don’t have an election, I would have to compete with Siya Kolisi ... (he) could have been the president.”
The one man missing from the first day of the parade was Handre Pollard, the fly-half who contributed 22 of South Africa’s 32 points in last Saturday’s final in Yokohama.
Pollard had to watch the celebrations from his hospital bed where he is being treated for a fractured eye socket sustained in the win over England.
The 25-year-old posted a picture on social media of himself with a badly swollen left eye socket and an oxygen tube attached to his nose.
“The reception from the public was unbelievable. Not in my wildest dreams did I imagine so many South Africans would turn up on a working day to greet the team.”
After Soweto, the Springboks’ homecoming tour will take in Durban, East London and Port Elizabeth, with the final leg in Cape Town on Monday.


Motorsport must encourage more women to compete, says Saudi female driver Aseel Al-Hamad

Updated 43 min 24 sec ago

Motorsport must encourage more women to compete, says Saudi female driver Aseel Al-Hamad

  • FIA is hosting an event alongside the Nov. 22-23 Diriyah ePrix called “Girls on Track"
  • Said Kingdom hosting events like Formula E is vital in boosting popularity of motorsport

RIYADH: One of Saudi Arabia’s first female racing drivers believes motorsport is too male dominated and that more needs to be done to encourage women to enter the sport.

Speaking exclusively to Arab News, Aseel Al-Hamad said the fact that only 1.5 percent of racing licences are held by women was “a big international issue.”

Al-Hamad, who is also the first female board member of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation, said that while there are some women blazing a trail in the sport, more needs to be done by its authorities.

“There are Formula 1 drivers like Tatiana Calderón, team principles such as Susie Wolff and Claire Williams. We also have female mechanical engineers and in all kinds of positions, but they are just a few. 

“We need to use them as role models to encourage more young girls to become like these amazing women,” she added.

Al-Hamad, who has been passionate about cars since her youth, told Arab News that she is a fan of Formula 1 and a highlight of her career was being invited to drive an F1 car, but her driving idol was Michèle Mouton. 

“Because, back then in the 1980s, she competed in an all-men rally championship. And honestly, I don't think anyone did what she did at that time,” she said.

It is experiences like those that inspired her to forge a path for more women in motorsport and lead the way for female drivers in Saudi Arabia and beyond.

Al-Hamad, who mixes racing with her interior design business, is one of the representatives on the International Automobile Federation (FIA)’s “Women in Motorsport Commission”, which creates programs and initiatives to encourage more young girls to be inspired by the sport and consider it as a career.

“I won’t forget the day I got contacted by the president of the Federation asking me to join the board of directors, it's great because I have lots of difficulties in my career and it's so great to now build a foundation for these young women and ensure that they won't go through the struggles and the challenges I went through,” she said.

On the possibility of one day seeing a Saudi female world champion in major motorsport such as F1 and Formula E, she said: “Today, it is possible, especially when we are seeing how the government is very much supporting sports and women’s participation in sport. 

“We have just recently started and we're starting really fast. I won’t be surprised to see a champion soon competing in big international events.”

Al-Hamad also said the Kingdom hosting events like Formula E is vital in boosting the popularity of motorsport in the country and the wider region. 

“Maybe most of the people used to watch football. But, today, when we have such international motorsport event, so many people will get closer to the motorsport and understand the rules. 

“And maybe these young generations, when they attend the race, they might get inspired and become fans of motorsport.” She added.

The FIA is hosting an event alongside the Nov. 22-23 Diriyah ePrix called “Girls on Track,” the second time such an event has been held outside of Europe.

“This event is very much focused on encouraging young girls from eight to 18 years old to discover their talents and motorsport, hopefully it will inspire them to consider a career in motorsport,” Al-Hamad said. 

The event will include educational workshops to introduce girls to a range of topics -- from mechanical engineering to motorsport journalism, as well as opportunities to use racing simulators and to drive on a carting track.

The girls will also take part in a panel discussion with some figurehead females in motorsport including Susie Wolff, team principal of Venturi Formula E. 

“We've approached mostly schools and we sent them invitations to have girls register and hopefully they will discover their talents,” Al-Hamad said.

Her advice to young women is to achieve what they dream for, even if they are dreaming big.

“They might have some fears at the beginning, they might think it's impossible. But my advice to them is to take small steps and just think of the steps with time, they will be surprised that they actually achieve their dreams,” she said.

Ahead of the Diriyah ePrix, Al-Hamad drove Porsche’s first all-electric road vehicle -- the Taycan -- from Dubai to Riyadh with former F1 driver Mark Webber.

The Taycan, which goes on sale in the Middle East in 2020, is the most powerful production electric model that the sports car manufacturer currently has in its product range, hitting 0-100kmh in 3.2 seconds.

On driving it, Al-Hamad said: “We wanted to test the performance of the car and it's great that we just arrived ahead of Porsche's debut in the Formula E this weekend.

“I love the handling, the feeling, it's a fast car, it has the same Porsche DNA in its interior and exterior. It is a beautiful car.”