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Why SA punches above its weight

04 October 2012, 13:16
 It’s no secret that South Africa punches well above its weight in the international arena. After all, this is a country that has produced the world’s first heart transplant, Mrs Balls and, of the course, the Kreepy Krauly.

Political activist Olive Schreiner once offered this take of our beloved country: ’If nature here wishes to make a mountain, she runs a range for five hundred miles; if a plain, she levels eighty; if a rock, she tilts five hundred feet of strata on end; our skies are higher and more intensely blue; our waves are larger than others; our rivers fiercer. There is nothing measured, small nor petty in South Africa.’

And the same applies to our sports stars. After all, we won the rugby World Cup just a year after our first all-race elections, and the African Cup of Nations the following year). Since 1994, we have produced a heavyweight boxing champion (RIP Corrie Saunders!) and more golf Major winners than any country outside the US. At the Olympic Games, our swimmers and athletes have left some of the world’s finest in their wake and South Africa continues to shine in other codes as well i.e. surfing and netball.  

One of the secrets of our successes is that this country boasts major development programmes for most sports which enables children to be identified and nurtured. Gone are the days when a young teenager can embrace a sport and make a go of it. Talented sports stars are getting younger and younger and it’s imperative that the authorities and administrators keep up with the changes and ensure that all the structures are in place.

One of the encouraging benefits of the 2010 FIFA World Cup is the formation of a Legacy Trust which has R40 million to promote and extend the development and the reach of the game of football in South Africa. It aims to address critical gaps in football development in all provinces and to support education and healthcare initiatives of NGO’s who use football as a vehicle a for community development. It is initiatives like this that will ensure that future generations will benefit.

Layla Francis

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