The first multi-sport George Tens Festival has kicked off in the Garden Route town. It was introduced in 2019 as a rugby-only festival, but now also includes Golf, Netball, Lawn bowls, and Men and Women’s Rugby.

It is hoped to become South Africa’s biggest social sport and lifestyle event.

The George Tens was halted last year due to the pandemic, but the festival is now back on track, with a new jacket on.

Former Springbok coach and co-organiser, Heyneke Meyer, says the event now includes more sporting disciplines.

“I’ve got a very sentimental and soft spot for this community, I started my coaching career here. It’s been tough for this community especially with COVID and no business for the last two years. obviously, I love rugby. Mr Mandela said sport unites people. So I just wanted to come here and make a difference and help people.

“We’ve had a coaching clinic with a lot of kids. Just to see the smiles on their faces was amazing for me. We wanna grow this event to not just be the biggest in SA, but in the world,” adds Meyer.

Strict COVID-19 regulations are being followed with only a limited number of spectators allowed. George Deputy Mayor Raybin Figland says the festival is needed to boost the town’s economy.

“The festival for us in George means quite a lot. For quite a long time we’ve missed sports events due to the COVID regulations. but George has shown that we are ready to host big events again. It’s a big boost to our economy and it creates jobs. So we welcome the Tens in George and surely it will just grow from strength to strength from next year onwards.”

The festival is giving back to the community but is also a platform for new sports stars to shine. Netball coach at George South Primary, Charlene Jooste says they are very excited about the opportunity.

“We are super excited the girls as well. It’s been two years since they actually played a match. So we brought our under 12’s getting them some exposure for next year to play under 13 for the first team of our primary school. So we’re very excited for the opportunity and we immediately grabbed it with both hands.”

One of the netball players Kaylen Coertzen says she is very proud of her team.

“It was very great. I really enjoyed playing. We did very well, but I think we could have done better. But I’m very proud of the team.”

A rugby coach from Aurial College in Oudtshoorn, Kevin Pikaan, says the players need some exposure.

“It’s all about the exposure these guys are getting. Most of the kids from our school, they’re from rural areas, very poor areas, informal settlements and to be able to showcase their talents on a stage like this. It’s priceless.”

The festival also features some of the country’s most popular music acts, as well as a beer tent, wine experience, food stalls and family fun.