South Africa’s former sporting greats are putting their not insignificant muscle behind tomorrow’s champions with the advent of the new Foreverheroes project.
By taking part in a number of high-profile cycling events, past and present celebrity icons are banding together to raise funds for the development of future sporting stars.
Enthusiastic supporters include former Springbok rugby captain John Smit, flank Warren Brosnihan, Olympic sprint canoeist Bridgette Hartley and SA’s own “oarsome foursome” – Matthew Brittain, Sizwe Ndlovu, John Smith and James Thompson – who won the lightweight fours gold medal at this year’s London Games.
According to project mastermind Brett Metcalfe, the country has a number of exceptionally talented youngsters who are on track for a podium across a variety of sporting codes but require some help in getting there.
“We need to step up to help make it happen. The best way to engage potential contributors is through sport because it is about the future of sport.”
Metcalfe, who has spent most of his working life dealing with sporting heroes and sports development, first piloted the concept at the Powerade Cansa Lost City Cycle Classic a few years ago.
“It was a roaring success and almost all the heroes who got involved have been asking us to formalise the concept and make it a regular feature at major events.”
The Foreverheroes now participate in the country’s top road and mountain bike races – such as the Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge and sani2c presented by BoE Private Clients – as well as golf days, says Metcalfe.
He says the idea gained momentum after reading Bob Buford’s book Halftime, which is about finding meaning in the second half of one’s life.
“It became evident over time that sporting heroes of the past felt a little redundant after retiring from competitive events. We realised they needed an opportunity to move from sporting success to significance.”
Foreverheroes gives big-name stars the opportunity to use their fame to raise funds and create visibility for potential sponsors, which will eventually allow the programme to become self-sustaining.
Through sponsorship, it aims to provide a structured and balanced environment for developing young sportsmen and women, including access to facilities and expertise.
“We enjoy a very constructive and well established relationship with the High Performance Centre at the University of Pretoria.”
Based on the number of Olympic medallists the centre produced this year, Metcalfe says it runs what is probably one of the country’s most credible long-term athlete development programmes.
“We aim to offer bursaries and scholarships in collaboration with the HPC. Unfortunately, like most institutions of this nature, the funding is woefully inadequate despite the fact that they have more than 70 very talented young stars already on track for 2014.”
Metcalfe believes the project will grow from strength to strength with the assistance of a growing number of sponsors, such as Future Life, Aspen and HP.
To find out more about Foreverheroes, call Melanie on 082 461 1610 or visit www.foreverheroes.co.za (currently under construction).
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