Aspen Pharmacare continues to make major strides in its efforts to nurture young talent and promote grassroots development of various sporting codes, particularly among previously disadvantaged communities.
As part of this targeted community development intervention, Aspen has partnered with the Gauteng Province Sport and Recreation, Arts and Culture and SA Rugby to bring the Springboks and international rugby stars to Soweto for a double header night of action at Orlando Stadium.
Billed to be one of the biggest rugby events to descend in Soweto in recent times, it will feature a match between SA ‘A’ side and a French Barbarians team captained by Freddy Michalak and a Rugby Challenge match between Xerox Golden Lions and Vodacom Blue Bulls.
The match under the auspices of the Premier’s Social Cohesion Rugby games is aimed at exposing the youth of Soweto to the game of rugby.
“Aspen’s core objective is to encourage people to make healthy life choices. Part of healthy lifestyle choices includes educating our youth against the dangers of alcohol and substance abuse.
We seek to enlighten the communities, particularly the youth, about proper responses to contemporary health challenges such as HIV and AIDS, TB and other lifestyle diseases,” says Stavros Nicolaou, senior executive of Aspen Pharmacare.
“We are committed to the country’s transformation agenda and the promotion of the culture of lifelong learning in order to empower our youth to realise their full potential.”
About three years ago Aspen Pharmacare invested considerable resources towards Education, Health, Community Upliftment and Development, one example of which is the provision of sporting facilities in Soweto schools, primarily for the advancement of rugby and soccer.
“The reason we continue to do this is to give children from underprivileged communities the opportunity to hone their skills and progress in life by having equal access to state of the art sporting facilities,” says Nicolaou.
He adds that Aspen Pharmacare supports the vision of the leadership of the Gauteng Province to foster national cohesion and meaningful transformation to usher in inclusive development.
“We put our South Africanness first. We embrace the spirit of patriotism,” he said.
Nicolaou explains that Aspen Pharmacare is a South African company deeply rooted in the country even though it has an active presence in 75 countries.
“We have a strong manufacturing presence in South Africa with facilities in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and East London giving employment and sustainable livelihoods to over 5000 people. A large number of these are women and young people from previously disadvantaged communities,” he said.
“We manufacture a lot of products in South Africa which we export to other countries.”
Meanwhile, MEC Panyaza Lesufi, who is acting Sports MEC, says the province places a high premium on the games as a powerful tool to promote social cohesion through equal access to sports.
“Sport is an integral part of community development. We should encourage our children to work together, play together and unite under one purpose of national development without being hindered by barriers of colour or economic background,” Lesufi says.
“By bringing rugby to Soweto, we are sending a powerful message of national unity. We are saying all sports should be accessible to everyone. We are one nation and we are working together to break down the walls of separation and to say there are no no-go areas in the country. We look forward to bigger and better games in an electrifying atmosphere at Orlando Stadium,” Lesufi says.
He says the government of Gauteng is of the firm belief that meaningful change can only happen when there is a conscious effort to embrace community based, citizen driven and civil society initiatives which contribute meaningfully to social cohesion, economic inclusion and non-racialism.
In another matter, Springbok coach Johan Ackermann says the team is upbeat about the games and they will deliver a world class, entertaining and memorable experience.
“The players are very excited about coming to Soweto and interacting with their fans. The preparations continue in a top notch fashion and we would like to urge everyone to come and support us. There is enough talent in our squad and development structures to light up the stadium,” he said.
Sanelisiwe Mbatha, events director urged the community to flock in their numbers to the stadium saying they have lined up many activities to ensure a fun filled and memorable occasion with wholesome entertainment for the whole family.
“We have pulled out all the stops to ensure a secure event. There is entertainment galore and we have ensured that there is adequate transport for those who will be attending the event,” she says.