SuperSport Schools will be a ’game changer’, say Springbok star Lukhanyo Am
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Springbok centre Lukhayo Am believes the new SuperSport Schools initiative will be a “game changer” in unearthing raw sporting talent in South Africa.
Pay-channel SuperSport recently acquired a majority stake in Schools Sport Live with the aim to identify and expose young talent by broadcasting as many schools sporting fixtures as possible.
Am, who starred in the Boks successful 2019 World Cup campaign, did not enjoy the conventional route to reaching the pinnacle of his career.
Unlike his Springbok captain and good friend Siya Kolisi, who was scouted at an early age at a youth tournament in Mossell Bay, where after he was transferred from the Zwide township to rugby powerhouse Grey High School that allowed him the opportunity to progress through the youth structures that eventually led to SA Schools selection for two consecutive years and ultimately a big move to Western Province, Am had to be content with playing his schoolboy rugby for the unheralded Hoerskool De Vos Malan in Kings Williamstown.
The 27-year-old did not have the opportunity to play Craven Week – the prestigious national u18 schoolboy rugby tournament from where the SA Schools team is picked from – and had to make his way through from the anonymity of the Border Bulldogs provincial team and Southern Kings franchise before eventually moving to the Sharks in 2016.
He believes that had the SuperSport Schools channel been around during his time that his talent may have been spotted sooner, and claims the rough diamonds will be spotted sooner now.
“This is a game changer. I remember when I was young all I wanted was exposure to be seen,” the Sharks captain said.
“But back in the day unfortunately I missed that opportunity. For me as a rugby player who wanted a future in sport as a professional athlete it took me quite a long route for me to get where I wanted to. I think being spotted a young age and given the opportunity will definitely play a huge role in developing our future champions.
“Fortunately or unfortunately, I was in a small school that wasn’t recognized as a rugby school. I know how it feels to be unseen and not getting the opportunity the have a stage to display your talents. So, giving opportunities and grooming young talents will definitely change their lives,” he added.
Schools sport, in essence rugby, has been televised for the past 20 years on SuperSport already, with the focus being on the traditional Model C schools.
SuperSport CEO Mark Jurie, however, claims that through this new initiative they can now stretch their reach further by being more inclusive of showcasing more schools, sporting codes and particularly focus on the growth of women in sport.
“We are going to be very deliberate in not only focusing on private or ex-Model C schools. We want to take SuperSport Schools out into more rural and disadvantaged areas as well,” Jurie said.
“Two years ago, School Sports Live broadcasted 130 schools sports matches, between rugby and netball, throughout the year. We are hoping in the next two years to take it to more than five times that number.”
Proteas netball captain Bongi Msomi was thrilled that young girls will now receive the platform they deserve.
“For me, though, mainly it is about women in sport who now have a major platform to put it out there. This is a great initiative to put young women on the map,” Msomi said.