Fundraising, April 17, 2024, 2:44 p.m.

Defenders of Tomorrow: Inspiring philanthropy in a new generation of South Africans


Two eleven-year-old boys selected to join the South African team as mascots as they walked out on the pitch at the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France, have donated a total of R100 000 to good causes as part of the Defenders of Tomorrow programme.

•    Two young people selected to represent South Africa as mascots at the 2023 Rugby World Cup are now making a meaningful difference to causes they care about in their communities.
•    As part of the Defenders of Tomorrow programme, each was given the opportunity to nominate public benefit organisations of their choice to receive a financial contribution of up to R50 000.
•    A charity that helps children with hearing loss, a school recycling scheme and an initiative that provides youth with a sense of achievement through rugby and a primary school are all set to benefit.
•    More information on the Defenders of Tomorrow initiative can be found here


Pretoria, South Africa – 17 April 2024: Abner Spannenberg from Cape Town, and Kellan Wild from Amanzimtoti, were chosen for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for their individual commitment and passion for changing the world for the better.

In the four months following the tournament, the pair have been busy identifying those local charities and causes in need of support as a way of giving back to the communities that have helped shape them.

An organisation which helps fund cochlear implants for children and adults with hearing loss, a schools-based recycling initiative and a youth rugby club and a primary school, all stand to benefit from the funding pledged.

Positive changes for a better tomorrow

Motivated by a desire to help his cousin who grew up without hearing, and others who have the same condition, Abner nominated The Hear Always Foundation Trust which helps to fund cochlear implant surgeries.

Defender of Tomorrow, Abner Spannenberg, said: “A lot of the games we play, such as hide and seek, freeze dance and even rugby, require a person who can hear. Seeing how my cousin is always left out when we play these games is hurtful and unfair. I knew about The Hear Always Foundation, which helps people recover their hearing. So, when I was given the opportunity through the Defenders of Tomorrow programme to possibly help my cousin and others like him, I did not hesitate.”

Carmen Slade, Marketing Director, JLR South Africa and Sub-Sahara Africa, said: “Defenders of Tomorrow was created to recognise exceptional young heroes from around the world – the trailblazers of the future, wise beyond their years, and who are taking positive action to help impact the issues that matter to them most, and to stand up for others. Defenders of Tomorrow sits at the very heart of what Defender stands for. We have a key focus global citizenship, conservation, restoration and supporting vulnerable communities. Initiatives like these are all about empowering our young people that as individuals we can work together to embrace the possible, and to bring about substantial and meaningful change.”

Abner also chose to support the JAG (Jointly Achieving Growth) Sports and Educational Foundation Trust’s rugby programme to which he belongs, which empowers youth from disadvantaged communities to find a brighter future through sport, in addition to the primary school he attends, Rosewood Primary School.

Rosewood Primary School is a non-fee-paying school with 560 learners between Grade R and Grade seven, and relies heavily on government support and donations. It will use the funds to revamp its overgrown Grade R playground.

Abdurachmaan Schroeder, Principal of Rosewood Primary School, said: “Abner became a hero among his schoolmates when he walked on to the pitch alongside Springboks captain Siya Kolisi at the Rugby World Cup last year. This donation will forever endear him to this school because it enables us to do something that will have a lasting impact for current and future learners.”

Barry Clarke, General Manager of JAG (Jointly Achieving Growth) Sports and Education Foundation Trust, says about receiving the contribution: “Abner’s nomination of the JAG Foundation to receive this amazing gift is in keeping with the kind of person he is, and his unwavering desire to help others. The funds will be allocated to helping more children from our communities who lack basics such as school uniform and stationery.

Purposeful choice

Kellan selected the Team Up To Clean Up recycling initiative to receive his contribution with the aim of helping future generations protect the planet. The first school to participate in the waste recycling initiative is Piet Retief Primary School. It has been equipped with 33 recycle bins – one for each classroom – as well as a waste separation station where collected waste gets sorted and prepared for dispatch to a waste recycling facility. Team Up To Clean Up aims to recruit three more schools by the end of 2024 and grow further in the future.

Defender of Tomorrow, Kellan Wild, said: “Protecting the environment should be everyone’s responsibility, not just grown-ups. So, I’m very happy with the opportunity I was given to share my love for nature and protecting the environment with other young people.”

Cairly Matthews, Founder and CEO of Team Up To Clean Up, said: “We are incredibly proud of Kellan, who has contributed significantly towards environmental conservation in his community. We are also grateful to him for his nomination, and to Defender for the contribution, which has kick-started what we aim to grow into a sustainable project that will one day expand beyond its regional roots and inspire similar projects in other parts of the country.”

Waste collected by the scheme is sold at a recycling centre and 40 per cent of the revenue generated goes to the school, while 30 per cent is used to cover the running costs of the programme, including transport and office expenses. The remaining 30 per cent will be deposited into an interest-bearing account that’s dedicated towards growing the programme to include other schools from the region interested in environmental conservation and waste recycling.

Schools that wish to join the waste recycling initiative can contact Team Up To Clean Up at or visit