Pienaar plans parting gesture for good cause

Ulster's Ruan Pienaar makes his way on to the pitch for his final PRO12 game with his son Jean Luc
Ulster's Ruan Pienaar makes his way on to the pitch for his final PRO12 game with his son Jean Luc

Ruan Pienaar is planning for one final ‘try’ before departing Ulster.

Next Wednesday (June 14) the South African star will be riding along the North Coast with a group of NI cyclists in a bid to help protect children from risk of trafficking.

An original idea of Pienaar’s, the ‘Cycle for Freedom’ aims to raise £90k for global aid and development charity Tearfund.

A group of 30 cyclists from around the country will join Pienaar and the funds they raise will go towards protecting children at risk of trafficking, disease and disaster - if the group reach their target, they could protect up to 2,500 children across the world.

Pienaar will be accompanied by a group of NI cyclists, including keen cyclist and Ballymena man, Alistair Beattie. “It’s lovely to be able to do something I enjoy to help support Tearfund. Hopefully the weather will be kind and the riders can all enjoy the beautiful North Antrim coast!”

Pienaar’s long-standing support of the charity has been an important part of his time in Northern Ireland, which comes to an end this summer. A father of two, Pienaar feels strongly about playing his part to protect the world’s most vulnerable, especially young children.

He said: “As a dad, I am passionate about using what is in my hands to help protect children around the world. Trafficking is a global crime that affects the world’s most vulnerable. I am so moved by the many who have signed up for the Cycle for Freedom and believe that, together, we can make a real difference.”

The group of cyclists taking part includes Ballymena man Alistair Beattie.

Mr Beattie, who is the Minister of Second Broughshane Presbyterian, is also a keen Tearfund supporter.

He said: “Through Tearfund, my family have sponsored several children and supported the many appeals for help in times of tragedy of earthquakes, floods and famine.”

The Cycle for Freedom will help protect children like Mazna, who found herself trafficked from her small village in rural India. Due to low income and lack of opportunity, her father sent her to a large city to carry out housework for a family friend: but upon arrival, Mazna was immediately sold to a brothel.

Mazna was eventually discovered by Tearfund’s partner, Oasis, who helped her work her way out of the brothel. Now, Mazna has returned home with her family.

She said: “In my life, I never thought I would be released from this darkness but Tearfund gave me the strength and confidence to keep fighting; they were always behind me and that’s why I won the race.”

Mr Pienaar and the Cycle for Freedom cyclists invite the public to join in their efforts by texting ‘FREEDOM’ to 70122 to give £3.

Cyclists can sign-up via tearfund.org/ni. Supporters are welcomed to cheer the cyclists on at stop-offs in Bushmills around 11AM and Ballycastle at 12.30PM.