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Youth Day: Reflections on the meaning of 16 June for Bafana stars

As South Africans commemorate the sacrifices the youth of 1976 made for the country, two Bafana Bafana players have shared their thoughts on what June 16 means to them.

With many in South Africa facing cold conditions across the country on Friday, it is a time for reflection.

16 June 2023 marked the 47th anniversary of the 1976 uprising, where Soweto students took to the streets to protest against the usage of Afrikaans as the medium of instruction.

The demonstrations and a march mobilised by the South African Students Organisation led to countrywide protests against the apartheid government. However, things got ugly and the police were called in to disperse the crowds. Riots broke out and more than 200 people were killed by the heartless police.

To mark Youth Day, Bafana players Grant Kekana and Luke Le Roux highlighted the importance of the country’s youth. The duo also expressed their gratitude to the young people of 1976 for the role they played in overthrowing the brutal apartheid regime.


Grant Kekana of Bafana Bafana in training
Grant Kekana

“Youth day comes with a lot of significance. We understand that it wasn’t so great in our past,” admitted Mamelodi Sundowns defender Kekana.

“The youth of 1976 particularly comes to mind and what they fought for. And for us to be where we are today.

“So the feeling I get is just the feeling of gratitude to know that their souls didn’t die in vain and we are able to do what we love [play football] because of them.

“We will forever be thankful and grateful and we are carrying on with the baton. And we can only add light and hope to the youth that are also upcoming to try and become whatever they want to become.”

Luke le Roux, who plays for Varbergs BoIS in Sweden, added that the youth of today have considerable opportunities to better their lives.

The 23-year-old midfielder along with Kekana are in camp with Bafana as they prepare to take on Morocco on Saturday, 17 June. The AFCON qualifiers encounter will be staged at FNB Stadium in Soweto with kickoff set for 17:00.

“Of course, we all know Youth Day is on June 16 every year, what happened in 1976. We know that people who lost their lives; many young people,” said Luke le Roux.

“It is because of them that we are living the life we are. I am playing abroad in Sweden and it’s all thanks to these people.

“Bafana Bafana is going to the AFCON [in Ivory Coast between January and Februay] next year and it’s all because of these people.”

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