The country was awash in gold and green on Saturday as we stood behind the Boks. Photo: AP

JOHANNESBURG – There is no doubt that sport has the capacity to unite us as a nation. Take the Rugby World Cup final at the weekend. The country was awash in gold and green on Saturday as we stood behind the Boks. 

We are so proud of their win, which comes at a time when as a nation, we need all the good news we can get.

What is heartening is that most of the green-and-gold jerseys we were wearing (if they were not cheap knock-offs) were made here in South Africa. More than 90 percent of the Boks’ formal and off-field wear and its supporters’ kit is locally manufactured, in fact they share a suit-maker with the President!

The cost of a ticket to Japan to see any of the World Cup matches, let alone the final, was way beyond the reach of most of us, but our economy and costs seem not to have deterred a good number of fans who were there in their numbers to cheer the boys to victory. 

The fact that they were able to attend a tournament so far away and in such an expensive destination, suggests they are among the fortunate ones to have a job. 

South African sport fans are a loyal lot. 

We stand by our national teams and become the Rainbow Nation again whenever they compete on the world stage. 

When we can, we buy the kit and go to matches. Our teams appreciate the support, but do they repay their fans with the kind of support they and we as a country need? 

It’s no secret who my own team is. Mamelodi born and bred, I live by the ethos of supporting local and am Sundowns fan and attend as many matches as possible. 

It is not a cheap outing for any fan by the time they have purchased a ticket, paid for parking and bought snacks and drinks at the ground. For a couple of guys with their kids, the total for a 90-minute match can cost R500 for three people.

It may be a happy coincidence that my team is one of the few, if not only, in the PSL whose kit and supporters’ shirts are made here in South Africa. If I was one of those people employed in the factory where Puma South Africa has these shirts manufactured, I would repay the team with my fiercest and unwavering support for being supporters themselves of the Buy Local movement.

If teams want fans to come in their droves to matches, home and away, they must invest in the country’s economy and in jobs, because an unemployed fan base is one that can only afford to watch matches on TV. Procuring team wear and supporters’ kit locally is showing respect for fans. 

It is disrespectful and a slap in the face of loyal supporters to take the manufacturing of your sportswear overseas. Teams, as your fan base, we ask you to repay them with job opportunities in the clothing and textile factories across the country.

This year, we made no secret of our criticism of Bafana Bafana, whose sponsor for their kit manufactures in Turkey. 

All of Cricket SA’s New Balance paraphernalia is made in China. 

Good for the Bokke, they support local and on Saturday they "brought it home" in more ways than one. 

Here’s hoping that Sundowns can also reap the rewards of being a truly Proudly South African team and do well in their quest yet again to conquer Africa when they resume their Champions League programme next month.

Shosholoza plays in my head as I write this column, as it reverberated throughout the country, when Springbok captain Siya Kolisi and his teammates conquered the world and made us all so proud!

Eustace Mashimbye is the chief executive of Proudly SA.

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