Presented by Vodacom

Rugby’s smiling faces

As the best rugby players in the Southern Hemisphere did battle during Vodacom Super Rugby 2018, the teams representing South African rugby knew they had an extra incentive to cross the whitewash. They were playing for smiles. Not only were they playing for the smiles on the faces of the fans, they were also playing for the beautiful, life-changing smiles that are made possible by the Smile Foundation.

Through the Vodacom Tries for Smiles campaign, the Vodacom Foundation donated R3 000 for every try scored by a South African team in this year’s Vodacom Super Rugby competition to The Smile Foundation. The funds raised through #Tries4Smiles helps The Smile Foundation to perform corrective surgery on children born with facial disorders. After an entertaining season of attacking rugby, especially by the Emirates Lions, the try tally numbered 244 and the total raised by the Tries for Smiles campaign was a whopping R732 000.

Throughout the season, players from the different SA team experienced first-hand the good work that their tries enable the Smile Foundation to perform. This was done by the teams going along on a number of hospital visits to meet some of the kids who will, and have, benefitted from these life-changing facial surgeries. Suffice to say, that after these visits by the Vodacom Bulls, Emirates Lions and DHL Stormers, there was barely a dry eye to be seen.

Click below to see the DHL Stormers visiting little 4-year old Haygen Fortuin in Tygerberg Hospital  Haygen is a beneficiary of the Smile Foundation’s work and counts Siya Kolisi as his rugby hero.

The Smile Foundation is all about changing lives and giving hope and what could be better than enabling some of the Smile Foundation kids to get up close and personal to their rugby heroes. Vodacom made this possible by arranging for the kids to be child mascots on Vodacom Super Rugby game days. Dreams came true as the young rugby fans ran out onto the field with the likes of rugby icons Adriaan Strauss, Warren Whiteley and Siya Kolisi.

The mascot for the Emirates Lions game against the Vodacom Bulls was Tries for Smiles beneficiary, Corne Peenz, who got to run out of the tunnel with Mufasa and meet his Emirates Lions idols face to face. The moment he got to meet his hero, Elton Jantjies, is an experience that he will never forget.

Over the past few weeks the focus has been on closing the loop on the Vodacom Tries for Smiles campaign. An extremely important part of the Smile Foundation’s work is ensuring that beneficiaries of surgeries are successfully introduced back into their schools and communities with their new smiles. With this in mind, the past weeks have seen the players from the different rugby teams accompanying the children who have undergone surgeries to their schools. This aids to build self-confidence and shatter any stigmas associated with the facial surgeries. Classmates and fellow pupils got to see these kids treated not like outsiders, but treated like the heroes they are.

Watch the video below to see Vodacom Bulls players, Lood de Jager and Lizo Gqoboka, surprise little Adriaan le Roux and his classmates at Esperanza Primary School. Also in attendance was Vodacom Bulls mascot, Bulletjie, who actually may have just edged the two players in the popularity stakes with the kids.

The Vodacom Tries for Smiles initiative is a glowing example of what can be achieved when a company with a passion for sport combines forces with a worthy cause to form a powerful campaign. In the end the success of this campaign will not be measured by the amount of money raised, but rather by the number of lives changed.

This article was published in partnership with Vodacom.

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Rugby’s smiling faces