The end of the Premier Soccer League season marked the beginning of a new era in the history of Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates as Vodacom united the two giants around the common goal of working together on the field to feed hundreds of supporters off it.
At the Soweto Cricket Oval on Monday, players from both clubs turned out en masse as the once rivals on the field came together to pack 850 food parcels to the value of R335,000 for families in need as they head into winter on the back of a still debilitating coronavirus pandemic.
For every goal the two clubs scored during this past season, Vodacom donated R5,000 to help feed needy families through the official beneficiaries of the Kaizer Motaung Junior Foundation and the Zodwa Khoza Foundation.
‘We are a partner with these two incredible clubs, and that also makes us a partner with the community where they come from. For us to be able to unite like this around the common goal of helping to feed people in need is truly inspiring. If this pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that we need to put all rivalries and differences aside and work together for those in need, and we did that today,’ said Michelle van Eyden, executive head of sponsorship for Vodacom.
In a tremendous show of support for the very communities both of these clubs come from, an Amakhosi player paired up with a Buccaneers player as they walked from packing station to packing station loading plastic bags with a variety of foods items.
For Kaizer Chiefs star Bernard Parker, the day was a moment of inspiration and also deep reflection on the memories he had growing up in poverty.
‘I grew up in a shack with a single mom. I remember the day my mother was retrenched and we had nothing. I had to make pap for the whole week, which we ate dry – no sugar and no milk. We did that for two weeks – breakfast, lunch and supper every day. And we only had water to drink. I know how much this food will mean to a family. When I think back on what we went through, I understand exactly what these families are going through.’
Orlando Pirates captain Happy Jele was also visibly moved by the coming together of the two teams around this common cause. ‘I need to thank Vodacom for giving us as players this opportunity to help where we can. Hunger is tough. It’s hard to sleep without food. I don’t want other people to suffer like that. And I am proud we can come together like this as players. On the field we are rivals because that’s our job. But off the field, we are all human beings and we need to help each other.’
Sonono Khoza, executive chairperson of the Zodwa Khoza Foundation, expressed her heartfelt thanks for the support they received.
‘I’d like to thank Vodacom together with the teams for being good corporate citizens. We really appreciate organisations that understand exactly what the community needs. The pandemic has hit hard in the community we support, and the child and granny households we help. People are in need of basic foodstuffs, and most people have lost jobs. We have seen how the pandemic has affected these families, and this is vital for us to help them.’
Kaizer Motaung Jnr was among those who immediately got busy packing food that will assist his foundation’s work in the community.
‘This puts everything into perspective. Here we are living our dream of professional football, but out there people are dealing with what real life throws at them daily. To have a partner like Vodacom step up at such a crucial time and use the unifying aspect of football in such a positive way is a great initiative. This is a responsibility we have as a club. We have to not just give back but be a part of building back in our community. It’s about our connection as people and something we should take forward.’
WATCH: Vodacom brings football rivals together to feed their communities
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