Sascoc salutes Mandela

Nelson Mandela (AFP)
Nelson Mandela (AFP)

Johannesburg - The South African sport world on Saturday paid tribute to Nelson Mandela for recognising its role in uniting the country.

The SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) said this legacy should spur local teams on to greater heights.

"As the national Olympic body, we are saddened by the death of a great man who played a fundamental role in unifying people through sport," said Sascoc CEO Tubby Reddy.

"We will carry this legacy and encourage all athletes to continue nurturing their winning spirit and take South African sport to a higher level.

"It is a sad time. We should keep doing what his legacy stands for and take South African sport to another level."

Minister of Sports and Recreation, Fikile Mbalula, said all sporting events in South Africa on the day of Mandela's funeral on December 15 would be cancelled.

"Teams will also wear the black band and sing the national anthem and dedicate coming games in honour of Mandela," said Mbalula.

He said South Africans must embrace sport as a unifying factor, as Mandela had.

"It’s through sport that we do not differentiate between white and black but are identified as one nation.

"This is through the legacy that Mandela achieved."

National cricket captain Faf du Plessis said Mandela made a difference in the lives of all people of the nation.

"Madiba has changed our lives, taught us the pillars of love, forgiveness and grace," said Du Plessis.

Itumeleng Khune, captain of Kaizer Chiefs, said Mandela's reach was universal.

"We have lost a father. We couldn’t have had all the opportunities we are having now if it wasn’t for Tata," said Khune.

"Tata touched the lives of everyone throughout the world. He used his power to unite this country through sport and we have been bringing medals to South Africa."

Chairman of Orlando Pirates Football Club, Irvin Khoza, remembered the role Mandela played in securing the rights to host the 2010 World Cup.

"Madiba realised that the catalyst required to build the unity of this country was the World Cup," he said.

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