The FNB Varsity Cup captains took part in a tree-planting ceremony at the University of Pretoria’s Future Africa campus on Friday.
The ceremony, which was hosted by Prof Cheikh Mbow, the Director of Future Africa, and TuksSport Director Steven Ball, saw the planting of African chestnut trees.
Tree planting at the Future Africa campus was conceptualised by former Director Prof Bernard Slippers and has become part of the heritage of the campus, which is surrounded by native African trees.
Future Africa is a campus that strives for collaboration and partnerships of any kind – between scientists and society, the private sector and policymakers, as well as universities and scientists. Sport, too, relies on collaboration and partnership and that is where Future Africa meets the FNB Varsity Cup. Both aim to pave the way for the future of the African continent and are doing so by hosting world rugby's first bio-secure bubble. With eight of the 10 FNB Varsity Cup teams staying at the Future Africa campus, the captains convened on Friday and planted trees to commemorate the occasion.
“It’s a symbol and a metaphor for how this collaboration should be established for the future," said Prof Mbow during the ceremony. "When teams are connected, universities are connected. Tree planting is symbolic because the trees will grow and we’ll remember that the university bio-bubble did this exercise for us.”
Ball said Future Africa had been planting trees for specific events since its inception (the campus started operating in September 2018, with the official opening on 29 March 2019).
"This is adding to the culture that has been developed to have this symbolism.”
One word mentioned throughout the ceremony was ‘innovation’ and Varsity Cup Tournament Director Xhanti-Lomzi Nesi echoed that sentiment.
“Varsity Cup has always been a platform for innovation, so we always change the rules and try new things, and it was important for us to partner with someone who shares the same ideas.
"Future Africa wants to find creative solutions to Africa’s problems and here we are, globally as a sports industry, faced with the problem of playing the game in a safe way and ensuring that athlete safety is put first.
“Future Africa is the perfect platform for us to do that and keep safety paramount, so players can continue with their studies and still attend classes online. It’s a perfect mixture of this new world we’re living in and finding a solution in a place that seeks to find solutions. The findings and learnings in this partnership are going to help us in moving forward."
Photos: Catherine Kotze/Varsity Cup