Eastern Cape-born trailblazer celebrates rural sports stars gone international through documentary

Eastern Cape-born trailblazer celebrates rural sports stars gone international through documentary

Funding from the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) has made it possible for Eastern Cape born and bred, Luyanda Peter to work on a documentary that aims to highlight and celebrate some of the sports stars who were raised in rural areas of the Eastern Cape; but have since gone to represent South Africa on the international stage.

The film that is produced by Urban Villager – Peter’s production company will be tracing the upbringing of four rural sports stars, look at what drove them to succeed, talk to the people who discovered or groomed them as well look at the challenges faced by Youth from rural areas. The documentary is in the process of being shot in the different towns in the province from 02 – 09September 2021. The idea is for the athletes to take the filming crew through the areas where they grew up, talk to their family members and school or club coaches who discovered them. The details of the filming process are as follows:

  • Filming took place in Aliwal North High School with Zanele Vimbela – whogrew up in Aliwal North where her netball talent was discovered. She has represented SA at the Netball World Cup and has signed a professional contract with a club in the UK.
  • Then in Alice & Middledrift with Mfuneko Ngam –hegrew up in Middledrift playing cricket in the Amacal’eGusha Tournament. He ended up playing for Proteas in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. He is currently a Development Coach for Border Cricket.
  • Also took place in Alice & Middledrift with Zintle – who grew up in Njwaxa Village in Middledrift. She started playing cricket and represented SA at u19 level. She then switched to rugby and is currently the Springbok Women’s Sevens Rugby captain.
  • Final part due to take place in Addo with Lusapho April – a long-distance runner who grew up in Addo and trained at the University of Fort Hare and Hogsback. He has competed at two Olympics for SA.

Peter, the brainchild behind this documentary grew up in Middledrift and Alice and went to the University of Fort Hare. He’s always been interested in the rural sports tournaments that take place in the area around Easter and December holidays – mostly the Amacal’egusha Tournament. He was inspired by the emergence of sports stars like Makhaya Ntini (Mdingi village) and Khaya Malotana (Lady Frere) – they were both the first Black Africans to play for the Proteas and Springboks, respectively. Peter who after finishing tertiary moved to Johannesburg to pursue a career in sports marketing – has been involved in this field for more than 20 years and has always been intrigued by athletes who come from tough backgrounds.

When asked what motivated him to pursue his dream of recognising rural sports stars through this documentary, he said: “With the rise in the number of sports stars from my province, I felt that it was time for their stories to be told. I wanted to profile athletes from under-developed areas and show that people can rise from the tough conditions and lack of facilities to be world-class. Having worked on the 43:03 The Wayde van Niekerk Story documentary, I knew that there was a market for sports documentaries in SA.

“This is still a new stream in the country, but a growing trend since the COVID-19 pandemic put a stop to live sport. Television channels were suddenly scrambling for content to replace the lack of live action. I then decided to start working on a few ideas and pitched my concept to the NFVF. We were then fortunate to secure funding to produce the film that will shine the spotlight on talent from my province. This was exciting because the chosen four are sports stars that are not as popular as the usual provincial stars such as Siya Kolisi.”

The initial concept was for a three-part series that would look at different sporting codes, namely rugby, cricket, and football. This evolved into one longer film that focuses more on the difficulties faced by athletes from the rural areas and how they rose above those challenges. This allowed us to look at different sporting codes and include a gender balance. The film now includes athletes from rugby, cricket, athletics, and netball, with a 50/50 gender split.

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