• Thato Mathebula


Most top performers whether in entertainment, sport or broadcasting are likely to have a role model or individual they idolised and studied to some degree on the road to mastery in their field.

Ask the current generation of footballers , they’ll tell you about Messi and Rolando, boxers Ali and Tyson, basketball players Jordan and Kobe etc. Ask most of them and they’ll give you names that were their sources of inspiration. Ironically enough, it may have been the same for the greats I mentioned too, they may have looked to greats from previous generations to become legends themselves.

One can’t help but wonder whether this inspiration and desire to emulate icons is linked to the identification of our own circumstances. The reality is being different in society based on race, social class and religion has caused a lot of division in the world and may be something nobody will ever have the answer to.

Does an icon who comes from the same community as us in society make us prouder of our identity and intensify our need to emulate them by mastering the same craft or reaching the same level of success as them?.

For example, if you’re a black man who grew up in the 90’s and chose to play rugby or cricket at school in the early 2000’s you probably heard the following statements , “These are sports for white people”, “Black boys play soccer not rugby”, is this because there was a lack of representation in these sporting codes leading to people being negative due to the fact that they had nobody from their communities to relate and identify with?

Has increased representation and more individuals to identify with in these sports adjusted people’s attitudes towards them? As always, we’ll let you think about it and make your own conclusions. Tune into this week’s podcast episode as we explore this topic in detail.

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