Because what I’ve learnt from this game of rugby is that it’s precisely in the dark tunnel where the very light of what it means to be a South African shines so brightly in us. We are all 10 metres to hope!
Johannesburg, South Africa (19 June 2022) – Mainstream media can often make us feel like we’re on the losing side of a long battle, with stories of racism, hate, and crime filling our newsfeeds daily, making us feel such despair.
But the truth is that those stories are only one side of the South African coin, and in reality, we have so many things to celebrate.
This was why Good Things Guy was launched on the 1st of August 2015… to showcase the good things happening in our beautiful country. Good Things Guy is dedicated to telling good stories and we like to share things that inspire. The award-winning platform is one of the leading good news sites in South Africa and has grown from one person with a simple idea to a full team that brings good news to South Africans every day.
Our mission has always been to change the national conversation and give South Africans a balance to the news in South Africa.
And a post written and shared on Facebook by a passionate South African is doing just that! It’s a beautiful reminder that we carry within us the most amount of hope, even in the most turbulent times, and if we take that hope and use it to propel us forward, then we have the ability to change the narrative of our entire country.
Michael Vlismas – a sports journalist and broadcaster who owns his own sports media agency – wrote the inspiring piece while in Dublin covering the Vodacom United Rugby Championship semi-final between the Vodacom Bulls and Leinster.
And it’s something we all need to read right now.
10 Metres to Hope
Dear South African,
The next time that thing comes, and it will if you live in this country that can as easily lift you up as it can break your heart, I want you to think about this.
I want you to think of a few men from Pretoria and a dark tunnel.
Every time these men run onto a rugby field anywhere in the world, the dark tunnel is there.
To get to where their dreams lie, they need to go through that dark tunnel. That is a fact as sure as the gigantic mountains or the majestic open Karoo plains of this beautiful country of ours. That is a fact of South Africa, whether we’re together singing in the streets or collectively watching the country burn down. We are all 10 metres to hope.
For these men, it is the same on that rugby field. The dark tunnel will come; it’s just a case of when. When in those 80 minutes will they stand in that dark tunnel? Since the early 1900s, it has been this way for men who put on boots and run onto the muddy fields of Europe. And it was this way again when I watched as 15 men ran out of a changeroom in Dublin, given no hope against the might of Ireland’s Leinster and in a Vodacom United Rugby Championship playoff match that would define a season.
This was a season of life’s perfection. A season when boys became men, and men became leaders, and leaders became brothers. A season when a Bulls teammate prayed in Xhosa or Afrikaans or English for his brothers in a change room, and it’s that same prayer of South Africa.
That prayer that says when the dark tunnel comes… let me be ready.
One of these young men told me he’s been in this dark tunnel on the field many times before. Caught in its grip of hurting muscles, heaving lungs, the sting of sweat in the eyes, and the slow tightening squeeze of a moment that wants to overwhelm you. And he said it is then that he thinks of his father’s words, who has always said to him that when you are on the ground on a rugby field, you get up.
“You get up, and the next 10 metres are your life’s most important 10 metres. And all I want you to do is run as hard as you can for that next 10 metres.”
All of us face those next 10 metres somewhere in our lives. As a South African, you will probably face it more than most.
That man sitting on a street corner waiting for a bakkie to come past and pick him up just for one day of work is running his 10 metres as much as the farmer on his knees in a dry field praying for rain. That’s what we do as South Africans. We run our 10 metres hard because that’s what gets us through the dark tunnel.
Because what I’ve learnt from this game of rugby is that it’s precisely in the dark tunnel where the very light of what it means to be a South African shines so brightly in us.
One of our great Springboks once said that it was the team’s wish to be taken to that dark tunnel in a match because that is where South Africans thrive. And the sooner they could be taken there by the other team, the better for them. That is where they work, where they know exactly what they were built for, where they can do what the other team is not used to doing. Where they can take the adversity South Africans face daily and carry it with them for that man on the street corner or that farmer and turn it into the shining light of their triumph as a team.
Two weeks before this match in Dublin, with the rugby world already having decided these men from Pretoria were not up to the task of defeating the might of Leinster, one of these men said to me, “A playoff team is a different beast”.
When there is no hope for a South African, that is the only hope.
When nobody believes, it’s only important that 15 men in a changeroom believe.
That is the way through the dark tunnel.
And all of us run through it with everything we have.
We pick ourselves up off the ground, look at our next 10 metres, and say what our South African souls sing to us in the bushveld night or in a shack or on a dirt road to nowhere.
We say, “Let’s go again!
Let’s all move together towards our 10 metres to hope!