Thirst for unity quenched
Tweet to buy beer at Test for those sitting together, brings Castle on board
What started off as a simple tweet from former Dale College cricketer and King William’s Town-bred Qhama Xhali ended up uniting 400 people from all over South Africa to watch the third Test match between the Proteas and Pakistan at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg at the weekend.
Xhali, who is now based in Johannesburg and is better known on social networks as Clixwell, invited friends and strangers alike to the game and offered a free beer for everybody who came to sit at what was termed the unity stand.
The tweet, made last Sunday, blew up on social media leading to the hashtag #ClixIsBuying.
Speaking to the Daily Dispatch at the game, Xhali said: “We have a nice small community of people who like to tweet about cricket and I’ve come to Test matches during the past three years and we always find ourselves scattered around the grounds.
“So I said, ‘let’s all come to one stand and sit together and [I’ll] buy you a drink and we’ll have the banter we have on social media in real life’.”
However to his astonishment, the tweet garnered 214 replies in 24 hours.
“It received so many replies within a day and I realised it was out of my my pay grade,” chuckled Xhali.
With interest rising, Xhali sought assistance from SA beer brand Castle Lager which sponsored 400 tickets and free beer to first-time cricket watchers on Saturday through the brand’s #SmashTheLabel Campaign.
The label was launched in July 2018 to shine the spotlight on stereotypes and labelling and to encourage South Africans to judge people on their character and their actions and not their cultural backgrounds.
Xhali said: “#SmashTheLabel was a wonderful intervention. I did not know about the campaign but they got involved and asked me how many people I had for the game and if they were cricket lovers.
“I told them it’s just people with different interests but who want to be around people they can interact with; people coming together not necessarily in the name of cricket but debunking the stereotypes we have.”
As a result, the 30-year-old met some of his social media friends for the first time at the game.
“There’s a friend I met today, we have been following each other for three years on social media. I don’t know where I would have been without this Test match or Castle intervening.”
He urged the youth to use social media as a catalyst for change.
“The scale of social media has changed so dramatically in the time that I’ve been on it. I’ve seen social media tear people down, but I’ve also seen social media enable people to pay school fees to graduate.
“People have met their spouses on social media, it’s got the power to unite and today is a perfect example of how it can be used for the good.”
ABinBev sponsorship manager Gregg Fry said: “We want to bring #SmashTheLabel to sport, we want new fans to go to soccer, cricket and rugby and today is a nice example of how one person’s tweet, who really understands our message of bringing people together, ended up encouraging us to give 400 tickets to people who have not been to cricket before and we were all keen to sit together with new people.
“We are a homegrown brand, we call ourselves the spirit of the nation, we support all our national teams.”
Fry said people needed to celebrate SA’s cultural diversity.
“Qhama’s tweet asking people to come to the cricket resonated with us as a brand. The fact that he wanted to meet new people and bring them to watch cricket has been amazing. The number of people who wanted to come to the cricket for the first time and enjoy a beer together is more important than the sponsorship of the cricket.”
Continued Fry: “We can all be proud of the message. We really answered a call to better society, and we all know sport unites society and it feels like one place where people from all walks of life can come together.
“If we can continue bringing people together to stadiums, opening up conversations about stereotypes that we have – it’s only a positive thing for the people and future of our country,” he said.
I don’t know where I would have been without this Test match or Castle
UNITED WE STAND: Qhama Xhali, whose tweet saw 400 people receiving tickets to the third Test match between the Proteas and Pakistan, enjoys the game with some of the fans who came to watch the sport for the first time at the Wanderers Cricket Stadium in Johannesburg on Saturday.