Bringing people together through sport

Former South African President Nelson Mandela saw sport as bringing people together.

And it’s a philosophy that’s close to the hearts of Jupiter’s founders too – particularly when it comes to the sport of rugby.

Described as a “gentleman’s game”, because it’s about teamwork and discipline, Jupiter is proud to be sponsoring a rugby exchange between South Africa Rugby Union and Burton Rugby Club.

With offices in South Africa among its global portfolio, Mark and Yvonne have seen first-hand some of the struggles many families face and jumped at the chance to be part of the exchange, which aims to make a positive impact to participants’ lives.

Newport-based Jupiter has been proud to sponsor the exchange, for both full seasons that it’s been running, and plans to continue to sponsor this important project.

A winning partnership

Just like many South Africans, Mark and Yvonne are passionate about rugby – Mark is a former rugby player himself, now coach and director at Burton Rugby Club, while Yvonne is sponsorship manager – so it’s proved to be a winning partnership.

The exchange sees South African rugby players, aged between 21-26, and players from Burton, aged 18 to 20, train in each other’s countries during the off-season, as well as gain work experience when they’re off the field.

This year Burton players are visiting South Africa Rugby Union’s Western Province Academy in the country’s capital of Cape Town.

Mark said: “When we heard about the exchange it was something we were immediately interested in. There are a lot of underprivileged children and young people in South Africa and those who are part of the exchange are living in what we’d describe as a very low standard of living in shanty towns.

“It involves young people from South Africa who would have gone through a rugby academy process but after the under 21s don’t make it to a full-time contract.

“This exchange allows these young men to come over to play rugby in England and gain experience in the working environment too. It’s also a great opportunity, in reverse, for the Burton lads.”

So far eight young men from South Africa have come through to Burton during the last two years, and as part of the work experience element of the exchange, Jupiter has opened its doors for them to work in its quality control, production and technical departments.

A life-changing experience

Father-of-two Mark added: “I think it’s a life-changing experience because they get to see a culture that otherwise they wouldn’t get to see.

“It would be very unusual for any of the South African lads to have travelled outside the country, so they get to come over to England to live and gain work experience. It also gives them a completely different perspective of coaching and how we approach rugby in England.”

And it’s certainly achieving its goal of making a positive difference.

Dale Koopman is one of the South African players who took part in the exchange last year. The 21-year-old said: “I would describe it as the best experience I had in my life.”

He is one of two exchange players who impressed Jupiter so much with their commitment and work ethic while on work experience that they both now work full-time, in paid jobs, in their South Africa office.

Dale, who works in procurement, added: “I started playing rugby when I was nine, and have been playing the wonderful sport for 13 years now.

“The reason I love rugby is the fact that it brings everyone together, you meet new people, and the best thing of all it brings the best sportsmanship and person out of you.

“My work experience at Jupiter gave me more insight in work and automatically changed my life. It taught me that hard work in life will always pay off.

“Before I started working at Jupiter I didn’t really know, or have a plan, where I would go in my life, but Jupiter changed everything.

“My family sees this as having been a blessing from God and we all couldn’t be more thankful for Mark and Yvonne for giving me this opportunity – it really changed my life.”

He went on to say: “The exchange is one the biggest opportunities. It was the beginning of a new start for my life. It’s really important. Mark and Yvonne can impact and change someone’s life within the blink of an eye – this is a really rare gift.

“I’d just like to end with a saying, which has stuck with me for a long time, and helped me a lot while I was on the exchange: “do good and good shall follow you” and Mark and Yvonne can’t do this any better.”

Support will continue

Jupiter will continue supporting the exchange, with the third season due to get underway in August this year.

Keen sportsman Mark added: “As long as we keep getting good people, and it’s making a difference to them, then we will carry on doing and sponsoring the exchange.

“I think it’s such a good thing for both sets of lads – it’s a mind-blowing experience for them.”

Based in the UK, Jupiter Group is a leader in the global fresh produce market. Ranked 17th in the 2018 The Sunday Times International Track 200, Jupiter grows and supplies citrus, top fruit, stone fruit, kiwi, soft fruit and a range of exotics.

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