Vellies. A South African shoe made for everybody. Once beloved by farmers, ‘veldskoene’ have become a fashion statement after Prince Harry was seen wearing a pair. Now our very own Springbok (and Stormers) rugby captain, Siya Kolisi, has become a brand ambassador for Freedom Of Movement (FOM), a Cape Town leather design company.
Not only have FOM designed a shoe for Kolisi, but they’ve added a CSI component to the mix too: money made from sales of the field green signature Siya shoe will go towards the construction of a rugby field at the Mbekweni Youth Centre in Paarl.
Together, FOM and Kolisi are making moves to change lives in South Africa, and to play their part in the South African economy. This project is the first step. The rugby field is something they can change for the better.
“This is real for me, it’s what motivates me and what drives me more than anything else because of where I come from,” Kolisi said at the launch of the FOM x Kolisi. “I want people to know that I haven’t forgotten my roots. I think I was blessed to be able to help and I have been fortunate enough to find young South Africans who are also hungry not just for business, but also to help South Africa.”
This campaign is deeply important to Kolisi and FOM founders Roal and Léan Boezaart. It not only celebrates South African design and entrepreneurship, but it also ‘pays it forward’.
This is just the first step. FOM and Kolisi want to inspire other small businesses to take part in initiatives like this one, even creating their own initiatives.
“For me helping out, it’s not only about where I come from. It’s helping out in general. It’s what we want to do,” Kolisi added.
Originally they wanted to rebuild the school Kolisi attended and the ‘field’ he learnt to play rugby on. However, with such a busy season, Kolisi couldn’t make it to the Eastern Cape.
FOM and Kolisi decided on Mbekweni after Kolisi noticed that the soccer field in the area was great but their rugby field was terrible, which reminded him of the field where he first started playing rugby.
“When I was younger I used to play barefoot, the field had thorns! But I still went and played, because I love rugby. First and foremost.”
It’s a big project, because it’s not just laying down some fresh grass. The field needs irrigation, maintenance, boreholes – they need other companies to get involved.
It all started when Kolisi visited Boezaart in FOM’s Bree Street store and fingered a piece of the Field Green suede on his desk. The green, said Boezaart, represents the fertile land on our national flag, the Springboks (led by Siya) and the sports field they are planning to build together for the Mbekweni Youth Centre.
After the field is operational, FOM and Kolisi are looking at possibly sponsoring a small team, talented player or even opening the field with a tournament – perhaps an annual tournament. They are reaching out to different brands to potentially sponsor a team from underprivileged schools and a coach for these tournaments. But still they are using this a challenge to other businesses to contribute to this initiative.
Rugby is a huge part of South Africa culture, so for a star player and a local brand to really push for this initiative is incredibly inspiring to the rest of South Africa.
The FOM x Kolisi Vellie is on sale and ready to take the market by storm. As Kolisi said himself, “This is a South African shoe, made for South Africans.”
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