by Ralph Staniforth

Kimberley Diamond Cup brings hope to the Northern Cape youth

Interview with Kumba Iron Ore

Kumba Iron Ore's Mooketsi Mocumi, KDC winner, Kumba Iron Ore's Tanya Aucamp.jpg

The Kimberley Diamond Cup took place in Kimberley between the 27th and 29th of September this year. It is a renowned skateboarding event which is held every year where international stars mix it up with our local talent to see who comes out on top.

Kumba Iron Ore has been the main sponsor for the last three years but this was the first year of the new name, the Kimberley Diamond Cup.

Skateboarding is growing in popularity within South Africa but at this point in time it is nowhere near one of the bigger sports in the country. I wanted to find out more about the sport and why Kumba Iron Ore decided to sponsor this event. I got hold of Gert Schoeman, the head of Corporate Communications at Kumba Iron Ore.

It is well known within South Africa that the ‘smaller’ sports often struggle to get sponsorships as they do not always get the coverage on television and they struggle to lure crowds to the event. So my first query to Gert was why exactly Kumba Iron Ore decided to sponsor a skateboarding event? He is quick to point out that Kumba Iron Ore does not view this as solely a sponsorship.

“Three years ago the Northern Cape government came to us with the idea of turning the Northern Cape into an extreme sports destination of note, so as our host province that was one of the main factors.” He continues, “Kumba Iron Ore's main business is also in the Northern Cape so because we make our money in the province, we also want to plough it back into the communities within the area. We see it as social investment rather than a sponsorship.”

“One must also remember that Kumba Iron Ore is the largest employer in the Northern Cape other than the Northern Cape government. The idea behind this is to attract tourists to the Province and in so doing create sustainable jobs for our communities.”

Kumba Iron Ore has been involved in this event for the last three years but the previous two years the event was known as the Maloof Money Cup but this year it had a name change. When I questioned Gert on the future of the event he had the following to say, “We have been involved for three years and the initial agreement has been seen through. The future must still be discussed as we re-evaluate our spend every year.”

Gert continues, “I know the Northern Cape government is looking at another four years but it is still early days. Kumba Iron Ore is not only involved in the Kimberley Diamond Cup – the agreement also includes a whole lot of community skateboarding events throughout the year so the agreement only ends just before the Kimberley Diamond Cup next year.”

So, has there been a rise in employment since Kumba Iron Ore's involvement and are the youth of the community taking to skateboarding? “It is early days. If you take a look at the Currie Cup, it is something like 120 years old and that is what we want to achieve with this. It’s a work in progress and we are looking at long term progress.” He continues, “It is quite amazing how the youth have taken to skateboarding. It is a low cost sport and we are involved with another initiative in which we have given away over 1000 skateboards at events. The Northern Cape government has also created four mini skate parks across the Province. Obviously, one of the spin offs from this is the Kumba Skate Park in Kimberley, which is an world class facility but it does not only get used once a year – it is open 24/7 for the youth. We also have full time staff there to look after the kids.”

If you watched any of the Kimberley Diamond Cup that was broadcast on SuperSport you would also have realised that it pulled a very good and diverse crowd. Gert goes on to explain, “That is another reason we love skateboarding – it is a truly integrated sport. People of all races and religion were at the event and enjoyed it in spectacular fashion.”

The Kimberley Diamond Cup received very good exposure this year. It was covered by SuperSport and there were many international visitors present at the event. “If you look at it as purely from a sponsorship point of view then the exposure was massive – locally and internationally. Kimberley as a whole got plenty of exposure.”

“We had a total of 150 skaters this year and this included both amateurs and professionals. Some of the world’s leading skaters were also present. Nyjah Huston, who is undisputedly the world number one street skater at the moment, was also present along with Andy McDonald. These are mega superstars in the skateboarding and with them coming to Kimberley – people really stood up and took notice. That will help in the drive to get more tourism into the Northern Cape.”

Kumba Iron Ore has invested some R30 million for the last three years into skateboarding with the aim of creating a positive lifestyle alternative for the youth. This is not the entire spend for the Kumba as they have invested close to R400 million over the last three years into skateboarding and many other projects. Gert then tells me Kumba Iron Ore will be investing a further ‘R160 million this year’, which will put the total of corporate social investment over the last three years at the half a billion rand mark.

As the interview nears a close I try to find out what Kumba Iron Ore would like to see from a South African perspective in skateboarding in the years to come. Gert’s response is assured and ambitious, “We would like to see a world champion come from the Northern Cape - from place like Kuruman, Kathu or Pofadder.”

Skateboarding is a fast growing sport in South Africa and Kumba have shown great commitment to the sport and the Northern Cape in the last three years in order to grow the sport further. Let’s hope that a few other corporate companies will take similar steps to increase our youth’s chances at success in life and sport.

For now, we thank Kumba Iron Ore for the part they have played in skateboarding in the Northern Cape. We hope this commitment will only grow in future.

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