The Vodacom Shop Celebrity Golf Day continues to play a pivotal role in the Val de Vie Foundation’s remarkable efforts to create a better life for all in the Drakenstein Valley, writes WADE PRETORIUS.
Meet Xoliswa Mjezu. A single mom from the Mbekweni community in Paarl. Married at 24 and tragically widowed just two years later.
Like many South Africans, Mjezu fights a continuous battle against circumstance, except hers is a little more complicated. The passing of her husband left her to raise her autistic daughter alone.
In her community, like many across the nation, children are vulnerable and require the most protection. Mjezu, though, has never been prepared to play the victim and set about creating a better life for herself, her child and others in similar situations. Such is the need for support in her community, she established the Good Hope Day Care Centre in her RDP house, accommodating 21 children and five caregivers in a small space. Many more in need are still waiting.
Into the breach stepped the Vodacom Shop Celebrity Golf Day at the Pearl Valley Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course in November where ‘mere mortals’ enter to play alongside some of the country’s biggest sport stars and celebrities.
Labelled ‘an annual highlight on the Western Cape golfing calendar’, the 2019 edition was dedicated to raising sufficient funds to realise Xoliswa’s dream: a purpose-built facility for 50 children, in the grounds of the Hope Through Action Community Sports Centre in Mbekweni.
The event was played under immaculate conditions with guests given five-star treatment. A walk through the entrance, freshly brewed coffee in hand, is one of the treats as your goodie bag quickly reaches capacity with a fine selection of chocolate, Pro V1s, golf essentials and hand-picked offerings, from eyewear to grooming.
A warm welcome from Ryk Neethling, the Olympic gold-medal winning swimmer turned Val de Vie marketing director, set the golf day in action. The lack of wind made for ideal scoring conditions although it wasn’t long before Team Compleat fell by the wayside.
The scoreboard was littered with sporting icons, from cricket legends such as Jacques Kallis, Allan Donald and Herschelle Gibbs to Springbok rugby captains Andre Vos and Jean de Villiers, attempting to lead their teams to glory. Celebrity chef Reuben Riffel was a fixture at the top of the leaderboard for most of the day, with the master of ceremonies, Dan Nicholl, also surprising with some good play.
The shot of the day was by Louis Koen, who took his laser-like accuracy off the kicking tee to the par-three 13th. He was spared what would’ve been a costly round of drinks at the 19th for a hole-in-one when his ball lipped the cup to tap-in range.
What had transpired for the previous four and a bit hours was considered by many as the appetiser for the auction to raise the required funds for Xoliswa’s dream as the players and guests bought into the project. Rugby commentator Matthew Pearce was tasked with the microphone and getting the bidders to dig deep. And much like how he called the Springboks’ World Cup win, he was up to the task before surprising the room with his own offering:
a Bok jersey from their Japan win signed by the champions.
With prizes ranging from holidays to Mauritius, the Maldives and luxury stays in some of the Mantis Group’s best establishments, to a round at Wentworth or even a playing spot at the BCX SuperSport Shootout, it says something about the gees that the jersey was finally sold for R120 000.
The double brandy and Coke bought by former Bok centre Werner Greeff and Mr South Africa 2019, Heinrich Gabler,
for R5 000 was also greeted with joy.
As the music faded and goodbyes were exchanged, there was only the significance of the day to ponder on. Golf’s ability to be used as a tool for change was unequivocally displayed once more and, of course, the fact Xoliswa Mjezu and her team are every bit the heroes who deserve as much adulation as the rugby world champions.
Golf’s giving side
The 2016 event raised funds for the construction of a roof over the quad at Orleansvale Primary School.
In 2017, a record amount of money raised ensured almost 700 preschool three- to five-year-old children in Paarl
East and Mbekweni’s under-resourced creches were provided with a daily breakfast porridge for 10 months.
In 2018, in excess of R750 000 was raised for the donation of Buccaneer school shoes and Visibility is Life reflective backpacks to 19 non-fee-paying primary schools in the Paarl vicinity.
About the Val de Vie Foundation
The foundation was established in 2015 with a strong focus on giving back to the community to help create a better life for all. The development company, Val de Vie Investments (Pty) Ltd, committed 1% of all developer sales income to the foundation. All the new home owners’ associations allocate 5% of levy income from new developments to the foundation. In three years, more than R13-million has been allocated to the Val de Vie Foundation to support community projects in the Paarl-Franschhoek Valley. Through its social investment partner Valcare – which is responsible for the intervention, project identification, monitoring and evaluation – the Val de Vie Foundation supports close to 40 organisations in the Valley.