Provincial Sport Awards by: Dr Ivan Meyer at the Provincial Training at Christel House, Swallowcliff, Ottery
3 Dec 2010
The Chairperson of the Standing Committee for Education and Cultural Affairs and Sport, The Honourable Mrs Jennifer Hartnick and fellow committee members
Members of the Provincial legislature
The Head of Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Mr Brent Walters
Chairpersons and Executive members of Sport Federations
Members of the media
Sportsmen and sportswomen
Ladies and gentlemen
During the 2010 State of the Province Address, the Premier of the Western Cape, Mrs Helen Zille raised the importance of us, all of us working towards building a socially cohesive Western Cape. She then defined social cohesion as that which binds us together and states that it is reflected in the manner in which we live harmoniously together, and feel a common sense of belonging and participate in the social life of our communities.
Sport is the ideal platform to instil values that bind us. One of those values is excellence. It is in fact the acknowledgement and celebration of this value that has brought us together tonight and while we celebrate and acknowledge sporting achievements it is also important for us to interrogate the power of these achievements to bind and move a nation. In doing so allow me to reflect on two events that certainly embody the pinnacle of sporting excellence, namely, the Olympics and the 2010 FIFA World Cup Tournament.
One of the most memorable moments in Olympic history is the amazing achievement of Jesse Owen at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. It was the summer of 1936 and Nazism was running rampant throughout pre-World War II Eastern Europe. The Olympics were coming to Berlin and Adolf Hitler viewed it as a golden opportunity to showcase his country and prove to the rest of the world that his Aryan race was superior.
Twenty-two-year-old American Jesse Owens didn't care much for Hitler's politics-or any politics for that matter. He just wanted to show off his immense skills and represent his country to the best of his abilities. He was determined to do well at the Berlin Olympics and that is exactly what he did with four gold medals.
His performances at the Berlin Olympics were remarkable. Four gold medals later - in the 100m dash, the second in the long jump, the third in the 200m dash and the fourth in the 100mX4 relay and not only had Jesse Owens rubbished the views held by the Nazis, but also delivered one of the magical moments in Olympics history. While German officials denounced Owens, an overwhelming majority of the German fans treated him like a hero. In 1984, a street in Berlin was named in his honor.
Seventy four years later, 2010, the first FIFA World Cup gets hosted on the African continent. The run-up was rocky; South Africa's ability to host this event is questioned at every turn. By the time the last of the 145 goals scored at the tournament crossed the goal line no one was in doubt that they had just witnessed the most successfully staged World Cup in football history.
One commentator described it as follows:
"The critics who spent four years running us into the ground have been drowned out by the roar of approval from the international media and the near-record number of fans who watched the 64 matches (South Africa became only the third host nation to exceed three-million spectators since 1930)."
John Carlin, author of Playing the Enemy, says all those stories, promoted by FIFA, among others, about the World Cup being the 1995 rugby World Cup all over again , about healing racial wounds, uniting the fractured nation and so forth, were off the mark.
"It was much, much better than that," he says. "What we saw was just how united and racially healed South Africa really is, how far we've advanced since the nervy nineties."
FIFA President, Sepp Blatter, said South Africa had scored a nine out of 10 for its hosting of the event, "making it a doctorate summa cum laude".
The point is that I deliberately chose two events from two different historical contexts to illustrate the point that the power of excellence is enormous. It draws us towards each other and then unites us in a common identity that brings with it a sense of belonging and a world of possibilities. Who can forget the scenes we witnessed in Long Street on 4 December 2009, the day of the Final Draw and for those who thought that it was a fluke, the scenes we witnessed at the Vodacom Super 14 at Orlando Stadium and Vilakazi Street followed by a month of football and finally just the other day at the sold-out Bafana Bafana vs USA game it reminded us all that sport? No, excellence in Sport has changed the face of our society for ever.
The Berlin Olympics and our own World Cup experience demonstrates in the most powerful way the impact that sport has on human beings and it is this power that we need to exploit to build our communities and the social capital that we all desire for our province and country. It must be noted however that sport can only achieve this when it excels. We find a winning team or athlete inspirational? The winning team embodies everything that we aspire to and each and every sportsmen and sportswomen here tonight is being honoured for the excellence they represent. As a government though we are the first to acknowledge that in order for this excellence to emerge at this level we need to ensure that excellence becomes the golden thread that runs through every thing that we do to advance excellence in Sport.
One of these is the quality of the partnerships that we put in place. Key to this partnership is the Sport federations, many of whom are present here tonight. The fruits of this partnership are reflected in the harvest and tonight this harvest is the sport persons who have been nominated for an award this evening. The challenge however, is how do we increase this harvest.
Well, I am of the view that it can only be achieved if we strengthen our partnership, sharpen our focus on creating excellent well managed accountable structures delivering excellent development programmes which young sportsmen and women want to be part of.
The Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport will certainly do everything in its power to continue to create an enabling environment in which this can happen as we believe that in order for sport to flourish we have to create strong delivery institutions. The facilitation of school sport, the development of clubs and support for those working within the sport sector therefore remains critical elements of our focus.
In the Western Cape we have a dedicated sports school, and for those that have not visited the school, I implore you to please take some time out of your busy day, and go and look at what we are doing there. If you are already involved in sports development in your communities, that is fantastic, if you haven't had the chance yet, then may I take this opportunity to ask that you please look at how you can get involved, and help our youth of today to build the ability that will see them sitting here, where you are tonight, in the future. You have the talent, and are the cream of the crop in your respective sporting codes, may I ask that you help identify new talent and encourage those without it to also take part and have fun, not forgetting that you can have fun and excel at the same time.
As I congratulate each one of the nominees tonight I wish to also make the observation that it is clear from the list of nominees that diversity and excellence do not have to be apposed to each other. The measurement in sport is harsh and uncompromising. The tape measure, scale and stop watch do not create the space for subjective considerations other than who was the fastest, the furthest, the highest, the most accurate or the heaviest. You have achieved and through your achievement you have made each one of us so much prouder to be from the Western Cape and South Africa and reminded us that by upholding the value of excellence we can indeed be a winning nation.
Thank you so much and congratulations.
Thank you.Source: Western Cape Provincial Government
Issued by: Western Cape Cultural Affairs and Sport
3 Dec 2010
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