Former Springbok wing turned rugby analyst Ashwin Willemse was the guest of honour at the SPAR Eastern Cape Charity Golf Day, which raised R100 000 for the Nelson Mandela Bay Community Chest in February.
Speaking at the event, 31-year-old Willemse said he felt a great responsibility to assist with charitable ventures whenever he could.
“In our country we have a lot of need. As individuals, there is that responsibility on all of us to assist in whatever way we can.”
In his address to participants at the Humewood Golf Club, the former SA Player of the Year shared his personal experiences in escaping a life of gangsterism and violent crime through rugby.
“I am the embodiment of the goodwill that is out there. By sharing my story, I show the tangible outcomes of giving.
“It also puts a much bigger responsibility on a person like me to be part of creating a pathway for others to have the same opportunities that were presented to me.”
Willemse, who earned 19 Test caps and went on to represent his country at two World Cups, is one of the founding members of the GreenSmile Foundation, alongside Breyten Paulse.
“Its primary focus is sports, health and education and we aim to help youngsters find their niche in the world.
“There’s nothing special about me. I’m just a person who was given an opportunity and made full use of it. This is my way of paying it forward.”