South African captain, Aaron Mokoena, hands over a Bafana Bafana top to Nelson Mandela
June 24, 2009 Nelson Mandela met the Bafana Bafana football squad today to wish them well ahead of their Confederations Cup semi-final against Brazil tomorrow.
The informal meeting at Mr Mandela’s office in Houghton was attended by the 23 players who make up the squad and their support staff.
Mr Mandela and the squad wore “Mandela Day” t-shirts named for the day which will be launched on his 91st birthday, July 18, 2009. The day is dedicated to celebrating the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela and encourages people around the world to do good in their own communities. It is hoped that the day, which is not a holiday, will be celebrated annually and start an international movement for change.
Bafana Bafana captain Aaron Mokoena presented Mr Mandela with a team shirt with his name and the number 91, in honour of his upcoming birthday.
Introducing the team to his grandfather, Ndaba Mandela said: “We wish you all the best in the upcoming game. We know you are going to be victorious.”
When he met South Africa’s coach, Joel Santana, Mr Mandela said, to much laughter: “Your face is familiar.”
“Madiba expressed a wish to meet South Africa’s national team and to wish them well,” said Achmat Dangor, the CEO of the Nelson Mandela Foundation. “We are confident that Bafana Bafana will do their best and will make us proud,” he added.
As Mr Mandela left the auditorium the team sang, “Nelson Mandela, there is no one like you.”