Rugby tournament aimed at giving township youth hope


This story appeared in Weekend Post on Saturday, 19 April, 2014.


COMMUNITY conscious brothers from the well-known sporting Mali family of the Eastern Cape have not turned their backs on their roots, nor have they forgotten growing up in the dusty streets of Kwazakhele.

This Easter Weekend corporate banker Lincoln Mali pulled out all the stops to arrange a rugby tournament in memory of his late father, Mzwandile Mali, with the help from his brother, Xolisa. Their older brother, Ray, is a sports administrator.

Lincoln, who is now the regional head for Standard Bank in West Africa, sees his past life in the hopelessness faced by many young people living in townships today.

“I had a desire to work with people who contributed to my development, so I consulted Xolisa and my former school rugby coach, Theo Pieterse from Ithembelihle High School, to put together a tournament for township schools.

Speaking from Angola yesterday, Lincoln said his father played a very big role in his life as he taught him discipline, among other things.
“As a father he was ever present, strict, inspirational and motivating. He laid a sound foundation for us in education, religion, culture, sports, and general manners and upbringing under some of the most challenging of times.”

In a media report last year, he was quoted as saying: “At just 18, I had been expelled from school, had been to jail twice, had attempted to skip the country to go into exile, was on the run from the police . . . I was not alone; we were an army of angry and disillusioned young people, determined to make SA ungovernable and the apartheid system unworkable.”

Lincoln, who runs a similar tournament for cricket in Fort Beaufort, is paying for the tournament from his own pocket. A friend, Siko Thomas, has assisted by donating R10 000.

From Thursday until today, six township schools from around Port Elizabeth have competed in the Mzwandile Mali Memorial Tournament.

Xolisa, a retired teacher, says he feels there is a hunger for this kinds of initiative, especially in the townships.
“We want to take kids away from drugs and alcohol. We want to give them something to do so that they do not become bored because when they are bored they might think of going out and committing a crime.

“Of course we also want to develop rugby in this area and work with the schools which show a great interest in the sport so that we can produce professional rugby players.”

Xolisa feels it is vital for people in prominent positions to not only give money to the less privileged but to also spend time with them, participate and interact with them.

Asked for his advice to the youth of South Africa Lincoln said: “The future of the country is in your hands, the decisions and actions you take now will shape your life for the future. Give your best in your studies, your sport or cultural activities as you prepare for the future.”