This season, adidas continues its vision to create a better future for all, this time through the lens of the biggest and most exciting moments in the sporting calendar.
National rugby captain Siya Kolisi spearheads the Impossible is Nothing campaign globally once more, while at a local level, adidas reveals the stories of 15 of the most accomplished South African athletes in their field including athletics, football, rugby, hockey, cricket, golf and gaming. Impossible Is Nothing is about seeing possibilities on and off the field of play, perceiving the world not as it is, but as it can be – and inspiring others to do the same.
A number of South Africa’s finest athletes and Foundation partners met at the Cape Town Stadium on Tuesday 5 October, to share anecdotes about pursuing their dreams with rebellious optimism, and encouraging the next generation to do the same.
Siya Kolisi spoke about his recently launched book ‘Rise’, as well as the work of the Kolisi Foundation and how the national rugby team bounced back with an epic win over the All Blacks during The Rugby Championship. Speaking about the team’s mindset, he said, ‘South Africans have a strong connection with rugby, so there is a lot of pressure. It was tough on us mentally, but we pulled together even when we had our backs against the wall.’
Kolisi shared that it was his family and his work at the Kolisi Foundation that kept him highly motivated. ‘I don’t think too much about my achievements but rather what can be done on and off the field to make South Africa a better place for generations to come.’
Kolisi shared the stage with national teammate Damian Willemse, as well as national Under-18 rugby players Imad Khan, Bruce Sherwood and Suleiman Hartzenberg. The group was joined by Alexandria Joseph and Bernethea May from Eersterivier Women’s Rugby Team, who had won adidas products to the value of R30,000 courtesy of The Kolisi Foundation in celebration of Kolisi turning 30 in 2021.
Commenting on what Impossible is Nothing means to him, Damian Willemse said, ‘It’s about beating the odds despite your circumstances. My advice is to set goals, work hard and don’t give up on doing your best.’ Damian spoke about his passion for nature, and the fundraising he’s doing in his personal capacity to plant trees in vulnerable communities through his collaboration with One Tree Planted.
PARALYMPIC AND OLYMPIC CONVERSATION
During the event, Paralympic 2020 Gold medallist, Anruné Weyers shared her inspirational Paralympic journey saying,’The world creates an image of perfection that we can’t all live up to. I didn’t fit that image, so I became the girl with one arm who ran faster than everyone else. I’m honoured to do something I love, and I hope that I can inspire those who struggle to live up to the idea of “perfect”.’
Weyers spoke about her harrowing experience of contracting Covid-19 weeks before the 2020 Paralympics, ‘This Gold medal is a reminder of what God has done in my life – not just when things were good but also when I was at home with Covid, thinking that my dreams of going to Tokyo were shattered. When I look back now, it was such an emotional 400 metre race.’
National hockey player, Quanita Bobbs made her Olympic debut in Tokyo this year saying, ‘I faced many obstacles to eventually reach my first Olympics after nine years of being in the national hockey squad – it took a lot of hard work, resilience, and commitment. Having reached my goal, Tokyo has left me even more motivated to continue to play sport at the highest level.’
Former three-time Olympian and Senior Brand Director at adidas SA, Kate Woods spoke about the common factor in sport regardless of age or ability, ‘Sport changes lives. You don’t need to be an Olympic athlete to benefit from sport. It builds confidence, gives you a voice, teaches valuable life skills, and gives you a community to belong to. We encourage girls and women to stay in sport because of these reasons, and it’s our hope today that the next generation of athletes will be inspired by what they’ve heard, and to use sport as their vehicle to achieve beyond what they ever thought possible.’
The football panel included Thulani Hlatshwayo from Orlando Pirates Football Club and Media Manager, Thandi Merafe as well as young football stars, Jessica Wade and Kananelo Taiwe.
Jessica Wade is 18 years old and currently in the National Under 20 squad. ‘No matter what you face in life you can overcome any obstacle if you’re willing to sacrifice and work hard for it. I’ve refused to let any adversity stop me from fulfilling my dream, and will continue to push boundaries to see how far I can go,’ she said.
15-year-old footballer Kananelo Taiwe plays in the U17 National Football team and is extremely focused on her goal: ‘No matter how hard situations are, you need to keep your head high, have faith because you never know if your time is going to be today or tomorrow. My goal in the next five years is to play abroad for Manchester City.’
The ladies asked highly respected Thulani Hlatshwayo for career advice, and he had this to say, ‘I would like to tell young players that anything in life is possible. When people say that something is impossible, you should take it as a challenge and not a limitation. Being at the highest level in your sport is not easy – sometimes it can be a lonely road. Work hard and don’t take your God-given talent for granted.’
CONVERSATION ABOUT PURPOSE
The event concluded with a conversation about Purpose, which Estee Jardim, Brand Activation Director at adidas describes as the essence of the brand. ‘We believe sport has the power to change lives, and we’re proud to work with Amandla, The Kolisi Foundation and the Zodwa Khoza Foundation, who all share this philosophy.’
Recently adidas built two sport fields at the Zodwa Khoza Foundation facility in Diepkloof, where the team is gearing up to offer a range of programmes for both boys and girls.
Amandla operates six Safe-Hubs throughout South Africa and these locations provide a physically and emotionally safe space where young people can access quality after-school programmes, strong role models, and a range of services, opportunities and support. adidas has worked with Amandla in South Africa for over five years and one of the projects they’re busy with, is the manufacturing of biodegradable sanitary pads which will be distributed to various communities to help keep girls in sport.
When it comes to the Kolisi Foundation, Co-founder, Rachel Kolisi says the goal is to change the narrative of inequality in South Africa. ‘People say we’re taking on a lot. Yes, we are, because there’s a lot to be done, and we believe we can do it.’