Stars of yesteryear recognised

2018-10-09 06:00
Some of the stars inducted into the newly established Sports Legends Hall of Fame, with PS4L staff members.

Some of the stars inducted into the newly established Sports Legends Hall of Fame, with PS4L staff members.

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Twenty-one of Cape Town’s sports stars across nine codes from the era of the South African Council on Sport (Sacos) were inducted into the newly established Sports Legends Hall of Fame at a function attended by more than 100 guests on Heritage Day.

The stars of yesteryear were given a plaque in recognition of their contribution to sport in disadvantaged communities.

Among the inductees were household names from the ’60s and ’70s – tennis ace David Samaai, soccer whiz Puzzy Jansen, cricket’s Rushdie Majiet and Lefty Adams, softball’s Thelma Achilles and Joyce Barendilla, and hockey’s Doreen Martin-Jacobs.

The Sports Legends Hall of Fame was established by Maitland-based non-profit community organisation Play Sport4Life (PS4L) which has already created an Athletics Hall of Fame and a Maitland Giants Baseball Club Hall of Fame.

“To say everyone at the event was emotionally affected would be an understatement,” October says.

“We had among our inductees 98-year-old Doreen Martin-Jacobs and David Samaai, aged 91. To see the joy on their faces in being acknowledged was worth the effort alone.

“Our organisation is now committed to continuing this exercise so that we can honour these people in their lifetime.

“Recently we lost two greats in their codes, soccer’s Reggie Jantjies and rugby’s Saait Majiet. They should have been acknowledged before they passed on.”

The keynote speaker was Sacos-era’s Frank van der Horst, himself a hockey player in his time but better known as one of the stalwarts in the fight against racist sport under the banner of “no normal sport in an abnormal society”.

Van der Horst was unstinting in his praise for the 21 inductees and the way they conducted themselves during the apartheid rule.

“You were the epitome of our struggle; when all our political organisations were banned, you filled the gap. You raised the struggle to new levels and it involved everybody,” Van der Horst said.

“It was a difficult struggle but gradually we won through, and we won through with great acclaim. I want to salute you for that because in the struggle for human dignity and human excellence, we bring out the best in people.”

Cricket legend Lefty Adams was delighted with the award.

“I am truly humbled by it,” he said. “Myself, and all the people receiving the awards, put a lot into our codes. It is nice to be acknowledged for it.”

Softball legend Achilles was also thrilled with her award and made sure in a posting on Facebook that people knew what it meant to her: “I dedicate this to all the unsung heroine women in sport,” she wrote.

On social media where a debate has been raging for months about the absence of a true hall of fame to acknowledge our sports stars in their lifetime, people lauded the establishment of the new body.V Play Sport4Life can be contacted on 021 510 1329.

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