Bloemfontein has become the new national centre of excellence for different sporting codes.
The Free State government this week handed over the Sports Science Institute to the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) to use as the official training base for the national teams.
The state-of-the-art facility, which is in proximity to the Tempe military base and the University of the Free State, is available for use by South African teams ahead of elite events such as the Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, World Championships and the All Africa Games.
Sascoc president Gideon Sam said the training centre would launch next month.
Some of the facilities available include:
» A boxing academy;
» An athletics track;
» An Olympic-size swimming pool;
» A hockey field; and
» Houses within the precinct that will be upgraded for use by coaches and the support staff.
Sam said: “We can’t throw a gift like this away as it is our dream to have training centres and sports academies across the country that are available for use by our athletes.
“The Free State government has endorsed it in their legislature and Premier Ace Magashule confirmed during his state of the province address.”
Magashule said the sport infrastructure projects that had been completed included the high-performance centres for badminton, table tennis and netball, as well as dormitories for athletes at the institute.
Free State Sports MEC Dan Kgothule said the province had the best-kept secret in resources and facilities.
Kgothule said his department had pledged R2 million for Free State athletes.
“Our province boasts state-of-the-art facilities, professionals like biokineticists and nutritionists, yet all these were not marketed properly, hence a few people knew about what we had here. Another plus factor is that Free State is centrally located and is at altitude.”
He added: “We hope other provinces can follow and pledge more money as this will alleviate the burden on athletes.”
Sam said: “We can raise R18 million if each province contributed R2 million. This will be extra money to send our athletes overseas for training.”
He said Sascoc was in talks with its counterparts in Spain, Germany and France to establish trade exchange programmes.
Sam said the developments in Free State were part of Sascoc’s road shows to get a buy-in by all provinces to make sporting facilities accessible to all athletes.