“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, the power to unite people that little else has.”
The 1995 Rugby World Cup was an international demonstration of the power of sport. 65,000 white Springbok fans cheered the newly elected President Mandela as he entered the stadium. Forty-six years of segregation, hostility and oppression were brought to an end, the catalyst being Mandela’s support of the South African rugby team. His support of the nation’s all-white Springbok team helped shift the attitudes of black South Africans, leading by example by way of forgiveness in hopes of a new beginning. Apartheid was broken as a result of one man’s unwavering resolve to unite his country, and that unity was manifest in the stands of Ellis Park on June 24, 1995 as both black and white Springbok fans cheered their team to victory over New Zealand.
Nelson Mandela was celebrated and honored today by world leaders and international cultural icons who paid tribute to his life’s work . His leadership, perseverance and commitment were unmatched, and his legacy has changed the world forever. The sports arena has since been a gathering place for fans of all different races, beliefs and backgrounds who can share, if nothing else, a love for sport and their team. Nelson Mandela’s legacy will continue to inspire athletes and leaders for generations to come, and the world will ever be a better place because of the impact he had.