Local sport heroes celebrated

2015-09-08 06:00
Shamiel Salie (left) is one of the Western Cape’s rising stars in cycling and hopes to represent South Africa at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro next year

Shamiel Salie (left) is one of the Western Cape’s rising stars in cycling and hopes to represent South Africa at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro next year

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The Western Cape ministry of cultural affairs and sport celebrated local athletes at a special ceremony in Cape Town last week.

Provincial minister Anroux Marais honoured participants in cycling, soccer, judo, kickboxing, netball, sailing, wrestling and table tennis.

One of those recognised was Athlone’s Marion February, coach of the all-conquering Western Cape u.19 women’s soccer team, which won the national title for the second consecutive year.

February said at the ceremony that although women’s soccer is developing, it will still be a while before the structures and level of professionalism in the sport reaches that of their male counterparts.

“For women to play professionally, it is going to take more sponsorship, more hard work in the setup at a national level, to get us up there. The sport is developing; the players are getting on par with equal strength when competing against each other, but the problem is that there is no funding for a professional-level quality league.”

February, however, still holds development very close to her heart, particularly in Athlone.

“I would like to see that maybe women’s soccer academies start within Athlone and I am hoping to get the community girls coming in so that we can start from there and build them from a young age. The problem that we have is that we don’t have u.9s, u.10s, u.11s in women’s soccer. We only start from 13 and up.”

Shamiel Salie (20) from Grassy Park was also acknowledged at the ceremony for his achievements in cycling. He has set his sights on competing in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro next year after finishing in 18th place in this year’s Cape Town Cycle Tour.

“My uncles used to cycle. We as a family went to Kalk Bay to support them every year and I told my dad that this is what I want to do and my goal was to beat their times, because in the Argus it’s all about the sub-three-hour mark. Eventually I finished the race under three hours and that is where I found my passion.”

Earlier this year, People’s Post reported on Shane Overmeyer’s monumental achievement in being crowned the country’s best table tennis player for the eighth time in his career. He too was honoured last week.

Overmeyer (36) is originally from Steenberg, but now lives in Beacon Valley.

He says he felt the magnitude of the occasion. “When I saw that the invitation came from the minister, I felt honoured. It is not every day that you get an invite bearing the minister’s name on it; for me it felt special,” he said.

Minors shineHe says the department has done its part in identifying and acknowledging talent in minor sports across the province. He confirmed plans to have the cream of the Western Cape’s table tennis and badminton players travel to China to further develop their talents, which will hopefully be aligned to his future plans.

“I do live in Mitchell’s Plain, but play for Bishop Lavis table tennis club. My intention is to open up my own club in Mitchell’s Plain. People always ask why don’t I join one of the current clubs already there, but why should I join the one club when I can get new players and youngsters from the other side of Mitchell’s Plain?”

At the ceremony Marais stressed the value of excellence and reiterated her pride at seeing the sports people realise the fruits of their hard work and perseverance.

“The athletes officially honoured have done us proud. They have held the Western Cape’s name high at national and international sporting events. Your perseverance and focus have groomed you into significant role models the youth can look up to.”

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