Remember the origins of Youth Day, hold yourself accountable for your dreams, and gather the courage to face your fears is the advice of three of South Africa’s most recognisable names in sport, as South Africa reflects in honour of National Youth Day. 

For successful middle distance runner, Mapaseka Makhanya, Youth Day is about reflecting on the battles won by those we remember on this public holiday, recognising the opportunity to shape the future for the next generation.

“Youth Day is a reminder of where we come from as a country. Take every opportunity given, because the youth of 1976 paved the way … We are not fighting the battles they fought. The struggles we are fighting today, for equality in sports, will benefit our future sports stars.”

Leading football coach, Simphiwe Dludlu, who has qualified the SA women’s U17 team for the FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup, believes the future is in the hands of the youth.

“Always remember that no one can be held accountable for your dreams except yourself. 

“You have an opportunity to pave your path and serve your purpose. Make sure to understand your time to plough and invest in your dreams.” 

“You have to believe in yourself when no one thinks you stand a chance,” Dludlu continues, encouraging the youth to push past failure. “Failure will be there but take it as a chance to bounce back and better yourself. Only you can be the change you want to see.”

Become comfortable with the uncomfortable was the advice of Sunette Viljoen, who shared her inspirational message on National Youth Day: “Face your fears, and you will flourish.” 

“You must do what others don’t, to achieve what others won’t,” the veteran South African javelin star said.

“In life, you are going to be tested to the limit with injuries, defeats, heartache, disappointment, frustration, anger, doubt, fear, not performing to your abilities, sore and tired body, feeling of hopelessness and adversity.

“But you always have a choice,” says Viljoen. “Am I going to back down and give up or fight back and prove everyone wrong? It is in these tough times that true Champions are made.”


Photo 1 caption: For star SA middle-distance runner, Youth Day is an opportunity to honour the battles won by the youth of 1976, by winning equality in sport for the youth of tomorrow. Image: @Mapasexy on Twitter
Photo 2 caption:  SA women’s U17 coach Simphiwe Dludlu believes the future is in the hands of the youth, and that we must hold ourselves accountable to achieve our dreams. Image: @ Simphiwe_Dludlu on Twitter
Photo 3 caption:  World javelin icon Sunette Viljoen wraps the discussion with an inspiring closer earned through years of dedication: “Face your fears, and you will flourish!” @Sunette_Viljoen on Twitter