BERLIN – Springbok legend Bryan Habana says he feels “almost undeserving” after being inducted into the Laureus World Sports Academy on Sunday.
Habana is in the German capital for the Laureus Sports Awards, which take place on Monday evening. There are two South African nominees: the Springboks for the Team of the Year and swimmer Natalie du Toit for Best Sporting Moment of the last 20 years.
The former Bok wing joins an illustrious list of Laureus Academy members as a rather youthful 36, but his record speaks for itself – 67 tries in 124 Tests, which is the second-most in history, a joint World Cup record-holder with 15 tries alongside Jonah Lomu, and a number of titles for the Boks, Bulls and Toulon in France.
He has also been a Laureus ambassador since 2009, and has now graduated to sit alongside 68 other sports stars such as Steve Waugh, Sean Fitzpatrick, Michael Johnson, Nadia Comaneci, Martina Navratilova, Cathy Freeman and Sachin Tendulkar.
There are also three other South African Academy members – Gary Player, Morné du Plessis and Mike Horn.
“It’s massively humbling and a huge privilege. You walk into that room with some of the greatest sporting icons the world has ever seen – I got to do what I absolutely love and got a passion for, for a good part of 16 years (as a rugby player),” Habana told IOL Sport.
“But to walk into that room and see iconic figures – Nadia Comaneci, the first ever woman to score a perfect 10 in gymnastics, Sergey Bubka, a Sean Fitzpatrick, a Steve Waugh… it’s just names. Edwin Moses, Michael Johnson, it’s absolutely incredible, and you almost feel undeserving.
“But hopefully the platform that Laureus have created – and I’ve been an ambassador since 2009, and hopefully that has played its part. But I’m now looking forward to continuing those values, not only as an ambassador, but an Academy member now as well.”
Habana was speaking at a Laureus Sport For Good event at an ice rink in Berlin, where the KICK on Ice programme offers ice hockey, inline skating and inline hockey to children and young people in need.
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Had a great time at the @laureussport #SportForGood KICK on Ice programme in Berlin this evening with @katarinawitt @borisbeckerofficial @sfitzpatrick92 and @cafu2. And @bryanhabana_ looked sharp on the ice 😉 🏒 @iolsport #Laureus20 #SportUnitesUs
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The former wing took to the ice himself, and in true sporting fashion, even took a tumble after speeding away with a rugby ball.
“I last think I came on to the ice when I was a teenager, so I’m a little bit wobbly in terms of I still can’t stop. So, if there is anyone in front of me, I do feel sorry for them,” Habana quipped.
“Laureus has supported this project since 2003, and as a Sport For Good foundation, being able to see the charitable work is fantastic. These kids, refugee status, poverty-stricken, but getting involved in an environment where they get exposed not only to team values, but proper values of life. That’s pretty awesome.
“The Laureus Awards are great – acknowledging male, female, incredible feats year-in and year-out. And that’s the iceberg.
“But below the surface stuff that Laureus does, in the last 20 years, they have affected something like six million children’s lives around the world. Last year, it was 300 000 kids who were in some way impacted by the organisation.
“Laureus gives us the platform to engage, and hopefully these kids take away something from this session that will stay with them for a long time.”
Laureus Academy chairman and former All Black captain Fitzpatrick praised Habana’s contribution to the organisation.
“Bryan was a world-class rugby player and he has been an outstanding Ambassador and supporter for Laureus Sport for Good for the past decade,” the ex-hooker said.
“He believes in what we are trying to create in the Laureus World Sports Academy, and I’m looking forward to working with him in the future as we focus on using sport to improve the lives of disadvantaged young people around the word. Welcome to the team, Bryan.”