Over the past 15 years, the FNB Varsity Cup’s iconic Pink Shorts have become synonymous not only with the Player of the Match but various social causes affecting the broader Varsity Cup community and the country at large.
This year, the tournament again puts the spotlight on mental health, an issue that became more prevalent during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We could never have imagined how Covid-19 would change our world over the past two years,” says Xhanti-Lomzi Nesi, Tournament Manager for Varsity Cup. “Mental health has emerged as one of the biggest challenges facing the youth. Through our SpeakUP campaign, we want to encourage our players, fans and the broader community to become more aware of their own mental health and take action if required.”
During this year’s FNB Varsity Cup, the Player of the Match will wear personalised Pink Shorts in his team’s following game to bring attention to this cause.
When the home team scores a try during the Pink Shorts Power Play, Varsity Cup will donate R1,000 towards the Ithemba Foundation, an organisation aimed at raising awareness about mental health in South Africa.
Varsity Cup will also publish helpful content throughout the tournament to further drive awareness around mental health.
“Studies these past two years have shown us what we already know so well – under Covid the stressors on our mental health have become immense,” says Professor Lizette Rabe, founder of the Ithemba Foundation. “That's why the SpeakUP campaign is so crucial because it normalises and humanises mental health. Our campuses’ rugby heroes are actually our superheroes by doing what they do so well – playing that magic game.
“Thank you to Varsity Cup for this initiative, which is so important. We need to take the "I" out of illness and replace it with "we" for wellness. Together, we can break the silence and the stigma.
“Through SpeakUP, our message is clear – there is no health without mental health,” adds Nesi. “Know your mental health and get help if you need to. Let’s SpeakUP about the importance of mental well-being.”