Quality school sporting programmes yielding positive results

2018-02-28 06:01

THE role that quality education can play in creating well-groomed young stars, not only for the commercial and industrial sectors, but also the sports arena was amply highlighted in these parts over the past week.

During this busy period that featured several codes affecting Midlands sports teams and spectators cheering their favourites at professional and amateur levels, we saw spirited canoeists from schools in the region put brawn and brain into the gruelling FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon and their cricket counterparts do the same in the Coca-Cola T20 Schools Challenge provincial final at the Pietermaritzburg Oval.

Epworth’s tough paddlers were particularly successful in overcoming challenges along the 120 km route of the Dusi to Durbs from Thursday to Saturday, while Hilton College’s lads excelled with bat and ball against their Clifton rivals in the cricket showdown last Wednesday.

Indeed, the promotion of sport at these highly respected institutions as part of a healthy-mind-in-a-healthy-body mantra was quite evident as Epworth paddlers claimed the top three spots in the junior girls’ category in the Dusi and also fourth, sixth and 10th in the women’s race.

Moreover, former Epworth pupils Jordan and Cana Peek powered their way to the women’s crown.

In similar heat at the Oval, Hilton’s own level of sports education was on display as some of their teenagers showed wonderful composure in an emphatic 62-run victory over Clifton, which secured them a place in the national finals of the schools T20 competition in Pretoria next month.

All these pupils have reaped rewards for hard work during school lessons and their efforts tend to help our national teams at some point in the future.

A consideration here is that pace bowler Lungi Ngidi recently made his debut for the Proteas as a result of a scholarship he had taken up at Hilton and his school before that, Highbury Preparatory in Hillcrest.

There are millions of Ngidis wishing for better days in sport and life in general, but are hampered by lack of direction, motivation and facilities at government schools.

They are basically held back by economics, which is why those teachers who go out of their way to promote sport and organise teams at government schools need to be applauded alongside those who dedicate themselves to producing efficient athletes at independent schools.

All these men and women don’t have to be told that their work leads to a better South Africa in one way or another.

Well done to them for gritty, Dusi-related triumphs or simple football matches played on bad pitches at government schools. But it would also be nice for some of the richer schools to not only provide sports scholarships to less privileged children but also create outreach programmes where, for example, sports staff from their schools would spend a few hours a week giving instruction at poorer schools, and teams from poorer schools would be allowed to use the facilities at richer schools for so many hours a month.

Finally, we invite all schools, rich and poor, to submit articles on their sports activities and achievements for use in the paper every Tuesday.

• carl.peters@witness.co.za

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