‘Rural Diamonds’ doccie recognising rural sports stars making waves globally ready for broadcast

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The highly anticipated documentary filmed in 2021 that is celebrating four rural sport stars from the Eastern Cape who have gone to represent South Africa internationally has been completed and is ready to be aired. Titled: ‘Rural Diamonds – Small Village, Big Dreams’ and partly funded by the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) – this beautifully packaged documentary traced the upbringing of four carefully selected rural sport stars that included Zanele Vimbela, Zintle Mpupha, Mfuneko Ngam and Lusapho April.

Directed by Bongani Morgan who also worked on the documentary of Springbok’s extraordinaire – Makazole Mampimpi – the filming of ‘Rural Diamonds’ looked at what drove these sports stars to succeed, the challenges they faced growing up and talked to the people who discovered and groomed them. During filming, the idea was for the athletes to take the crew through the dusty small town/villages where they grew up, talked to their family members, teachers and coaches who discovered them. Below are some details on the journeys of these internationally acclaimed jewels who are role models to youth in rural areas of SA and what they said about their participation in this doccie:

Zanele Vimbela grew up in Aliwal North where her netball talent was discovered. She has represented SA at the Netball World Cup and is now based overseas after she signed a professional contract with a club in the UK. When asked why she participated in the documentary – Vimbela said that it was important for her story to be told especially because there are not a lot of sport success stories coming from her small town in Aliwal North. Also, she feels that it is important for children coming from underprivileged communities to hear her story, so that they can also grab opportunities they get, work hard and know that where they come from does not define where they are going in life.

Zintle Mpupha was born and bred in Njwaxa Village in Middledrift and is now also based in the UK. She started playing cricket and represented SA at u19 level. She then switched to rugby and is currently playing for the Springbok Women’s Sevens Rugby team. Mpupha said that her journey was not easy, especially transitioning from cricket to rugby and also because there is no real development in her area, especially when it comes to rugby facilities. Despite that, she still feels that it is important for youth to give their best when opportunity arises regardless of their circumstances or background.

Mfuneko Ngam originally from Cilidarha village in Middledrift – started his career playing cricket in the Amacal’eGusha Tournament. He ended up playing for Proteas in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s and is currently a Development Coach for Border Cricket and commentator on SuperSport. When asked about his views on participating in this documentary and the possible impact, Ngam said that he feels that stories that focus on sport stars from the dusty and small rural towns are not told enough. For him, it feels good to be recognised for the contribution he has made in his community and is happy to know that his story could inspire some young people that come from impoverished areas like his village. Ngam is hoping that his story will encourage kids from previously disadvantaged areas to take sport seriously and know that they can also make a career out of it, like any other profession.

Lusapho April is a long-distance runner who grew up in Addo and trained at the University of Fort Hare and Hogsback. He has competed in two Olympic Games representing South Africa. April is concerned about the lack of infrastructure development in his area but most importantly, the lack of facilities for children to train and grow in any sport they want to pursue. He feels strongly about the need for more mentors that can groom children that want to pursue sport as a career. He said that his big break came when he was at Fort Hare and that participating in senior varsity competition is what took his sport career to the next level.

Luyanda Peter – the brainchild behind the documentary and owner of Urban Villager – the production company that filmed this story also comes from Alice, a small town in the Eastern Cape. Peter said that he was grateful for the input and wisdom received from sporting luminaries that included the former Minister of Sports and Recreation – Ngconde Balfour and ex-President of the International Cricket Council – Ray Mali in this documentary.

SABC with an audience of 30-million viewers has confirmed its commitment to licence and broadcast this inspirational story – flighting details will be confirmed in due course. For a sneak preview of this documentary, click on this link – https://youtu.be/ThQ0Mr21e5E