– Above: Schalk Brits. Photo: Henk Oets.

Maties Sport and the development and alumni relations division (DAR) at Stellenbosch University (SU) have launched a 2-month fundraising campaign – #Train4Fees – to help student-athletes in need of financial assistance to pay for their study fees in the difficult Covid times.

Since 1 June, the #Train4Fees campaign, hosted on www.matiesalumni, has gone live on the GivenGain donating platform with financial and training support not only from Maties alumni but also ordinary South Africans, here and abroad.

Former Maties Sport players, the Stormers and Springboks Pieter-Steph du Toit, Breyton Paulse and Schalk Brits, have posted their support for #Train4Fees. In the customary fashion of less talk, more action, lock and flanker Du Toit said, “I’m happy to support the #Train4Fees campaign by Maties.”

South Africa’s favourite Koue Bokkeveld wing, Breyton Paulse, similarly offered his support in a #Train4Fees appeal on YouTube by commenting, “This is a difficult and tough Covid time.” Springbok hooker Schalk Brits makes up the trio of Springboks lending their support to #Train4Fees. “Let’s raise funds and help people that need it more than us,” Britz said recently.

It’s not only those Maties rugby players in a dire financial position that will benefit from the fundraising campaign. All Maties Sport disciplines are targeted with soccer, cricket, netball and hockey making up the suite of donation portals on GivenGain.

Ilhaam Groenewald, chief director for Maties Sport, says, “Here at Stellenbosch University and Maties Sport our student-athletes demonstrate that high-level participation in university sport runs side by side with the educational mission of a university of excellence. And we continue to deliver outstanding teams and garner individual achievements, just like our Maties Sport alumni did.”

Athletics, swimming, tennis, parasport, gymnastics, Taekwondo – in fact, in all Maties Sport disciplines where student-athletes require financial assistance, would ultimately benefit from the funds raised.

The public is asked to either donate funds to the various fundraisers or to join the campaign by running, cycling, skateboarding, power walking, whatever fitness training they enjoy. They can also show their support by signing up to become a fundraiser for #Train4Fees and raise funds for every kilometre they crush.

Regarding the #Train4Fees campaign, Groenewald said, “A major effort in 2020 and beyond is working with the university’s development and alumni relations division and various stakeholders towards achieving better success with our fundraising opportunities.”

Currently, the number of registered fundraisers is 67 and the overall amount raised by the #Train4Fees fundraising campaign is R123,500 with R1,200,000 as target when the campaign draws to a close on 31 July 2020.

According to Hans Scriba, fundraising manager for Maties Sport at DAR, sport players are generally competitive. He commented after the support shown by over one hundred Maties Sport coaches and players.

“Several sports coaches, players and volunteer supporters have already registered. We will work hard to extend and widen this giving network by reaching out and involving the vast Maties alumni family.”

Scriba, a former Maties and Western Province utility back, is also taking part in the #Train4Fees campaign, “I have done 58km over the first ten days for this very worthwhile cause – only 192 to go! Thank you for the great support so far.”

Maties hockey player, Ru Baker, hailing from Ocean View, Bluff in KwaZulu-Natal, is at present, one of the top #Train4Fees fundraisers with an amount of R10,700.