The Boks have reminded us how great we can be if we stand together. Photo: AP

JOHANNESBURG – Sport is an extremely powerful institution in its own right. It has the muscle to fiercely unite or divide millions across the globe.

While I was in Monaco for the launch of the Monaco Youth Sports Club, this year I met a sophrologist (sophrology is a therapy designed to help clients to relax by using exercises for both body and mind), who has trained many athletes in a variety of sporting codes, including many of the superstars. She couldn’t stress enough just how important it is to build a mindset of resilience and optimism. After all, reaching peak performance and achieving victory begins in your head. 

This weekend’s win by the Boks showed exactly that. In Twitter-verse, it was all about positivity, resilience and optimism.

Even at half-time when the score-line was close, many believed that the Boks would still emerge victorious. With a beer and some braai meat, I watched poor and rich, white and black, locals and foreigners, chief executives and gardeners, totally immersed in the match, excitingly sharing their common love and support for “their boys”. 

On the flip-side, something always emerges to depress us. From the increasingly high costs of living to seeing neighbours, friends or families struggling to provide, and persistent negative sentiments. 

Imagine if we became more resilient and optimistic about our future and used what little power we possess to make a collaborative difference. Imagine if we find better ways to deploy resources and ensure they’re used for the goals they are meant to achieve. Imagine if we showed the same love, positivity and support to everyone that we can just as we did for the Boks?

Even as a non-rugby guy, I watched the 2007 World Cup victory from a Cape Town pub, which united the nation’s support, due in part to Madiba’s endorsement and calls for unity. The celebratory euphoria lasted for a while, then slowly died and we all went back to our little corners and continued with our shenanigans. 

Watching the finals on Saturday reignited those emotions and positivity. It’s time to change the game plan. Start-ups and small-medium enterprises need the same sustained support, resilience and optimism to survive. They need hope and those entities entrusted to support them to have their backs, no matter what. They need capital, mentors, conducive spaces and a vibrant network of influencers and executives to start and scale. As the primary supporter base of the entire entrepreneurial ecosystem, government, big business, policymakers and investors need to get their game going to ensure small businesses kick-off with a winning mindset.

Thank you, Boks for reminding us how great we can be if we stand together! 

Kizito Okechukwu is the co-chairperson of the Global Entrepreneurship Network Africa; 22 on Sloane is Africa’s largest start-up campus.

BUSINESS REPORT