Send-Off remarks of the Minister of Sport and Recreation South Africa (SRSA), Honourable Mr Fikile Mbalula (MP), on the occasion of the send-off dinner hosted by the South African Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) in honour of Team South Africa. Gauteng Province, Sandton Convention Centre
18 Jul 2012
Programme Director, Ms Carol Tshabalala;
Deputy Minister of Sport and Recreation South Africa, Hon. Gert Oosthuizen;
Member of the International Olympic Committee, Mr Sam Ramsamy;
MEC of Sport and Recreation in Gauteng Province, Mr Lebohang Maile;
Director-General of SRSA, Mr Alec Moemi;
President of the South African Confederation and Olympic Committee, Mr Gideon Sam;
The CEO of SASCOC, Mr Tubby Reddy and all the Board Members;
Chef de Mission, Ms Patience Shikwambana;
Honourable and Distinguished Guests;
All our athletes and Olympians;
The Media who is here to grace this event;
Fellow South Africans; Ladies and Gentlemen.
I have a singular honour to address this august gathering this evening in honour of Team South Africa as we wish them well in their enormous endeavours going to the London Olympics tomorrow. I want to take this opportunity to wish all our Olympians and Paralympians good luck as they depart for London.
As South Africa is officially sending-off Team South Africa to represent the nation to the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympic Games; we are particular reminded about one of our own, the son of our soil who got injured whilst he was on duty, in a freak accident when, defending our glory in the first day of South Africa’s Cricket tour of England last week.
It was sad for all of us to learn that one of our experienced ‘wicketkeepers’ announced his early retirement after this accident. We wish him speedily recovery as he recovers from the struck of a bail in the eye during this match. We want to say that we know him as a fighter and we are sure that he will fight this till the end. We are very optimistic he will heal soon.
Ladies and Gentlemen, today is a very special day in our country. As you know tata Nelson Mandela is celebrating his 94th birthday today. In the same token this day has been declared by the United Nation (UN) as international Nelson Mandela Day whilst South Africa declared the month of July as Nelson Mandela Month. Many South Africans and the International Community were hard at work in all our communities doing good for humanity resembling one of the strategic values of tata Madiba including human sacrifice, human solidarity as well as hard work.
We are therefore gathered here this evening with a twin honour to send-off Team South Africa (TEAM SA) and to celebrate this special day. This send-off dinner in honour of our Team SA is blessed as it coincide with this icon of our nation’s birthday and therefore must serve as further motivation for the team to perform for Tata Mandela. I am sure that the example of his life will serve as impetus to achieve more at the London Olympics. All of our athletes are therefore blessed with the well-known inspiring Madiba magic that motivates all sportsmen and women of South Africa to perform at their best.
We say to our Team go to London and do good for South Africa and Africa. As you leave tomorrow, it must be in your minds that Madiba and 49 million South Africans are 100% behind you.
Just as tata Mandela have traversed a life filled with sacrifices, challenges, obstacles and triumph over adversity, you too, our Olympians, have sacrificed, faced challenges and obstacles and will now have to represent our country with pride and honour to triumph over the world.
As Sun Tzu once said:
“Victory belongs to the man (and woman) who can master the stratagem of crooked and the straight … This is the Art of the Fray”.
Ladies and Gentlemen, and honourable guests I present to you this evening Team South Africa (Team SA).This is the team that will represent the Republic of South Africa to the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics Games towards the end of this month and at the beginning of August.
This capable team will represent the hopes and aspirations of the 49 million South Africans on the sporting fields of London whilst at the same time will be our ambassadors to the billions of spectators all over the world. They will, in the field of sport, give our message to the Queen that ‘South Africa is a country full with possibilities’.
They are going to London tomorrow and at the beginning of August not as subjects of the Crown and a delegation of the colonised and oppressed African masses. But, as equals in the global affairs, including in international sport. Today these off-springs, of our forefathers who made deputations to the Queen many years ago, will go to London to represent South Africa as a free country and a dignified people.
Chef de Mission, this team has been given the marching orders by the Commander in Chief, President Zuma last week. They are so fired up and rearing to take on the opponents in these Olympic and Paralympic Games in London. So great is their determination that they may not hear you in the midst of war.
When that happens, my command to you is that “when ears do not hear, use gongs and drums. When eyes do not see, use banners and flags. Gongs and drums, banners and flags are the ears and eyes of the army … Command them with civility, rally them with martial discipline, and you will win their confidence. ”This is an extract from the book Art of War.
Therefore these battalions of about 125 Olympians and 62 Paralympians, who will participate in more than 17 Sporting Codes, have undergone an intense training, selection and qualifying criteria and process. This criterion and process was designed to select only the best and deserving warriors who are the cream of the crop and the jewel of the people of uMzantsi.
Ladies and Gentlemen, these combatants know the fact that “victory belongs to the side that scores most in the temple calculations before battle. Defeat belongs to the side that scores least in the temple calculations before battle”.
To help them succeed in the field of war, we have also assembled a strong contingent who will make the life of these brigades more pleasant in the foreign land and to provide a home away from home atmosphere for Team SA through eKhaya Hospitality Centre in order to afford all of them with an atmosphere that will make this team to ultimately become a team that will make South Africa a ‘winning nation. We want them to make all South Africans proud in the next coming weeks especially when Banyana Banyana opens the way in their first clash with Sweden on the 25 July 2012 in the City of Coventry Stadium.
Our government through Sport and Recreation South Africa (SRSA) together with all our provincial counter-parts have mobilised society behind this Team. We have mobilised, together with the South African Sport Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC), resources and funding through government and sponsorship for this team in their preparations and build-up processes towards the Olympic Games. We believe, through such a moral and financial support, these heroes and heroines of our soil will make us proud!!
At the same time we have partnered with other stakeholders to, through the eKhaya Hospitality Centre, specifically profile our country and boost its international image and standing whilst thumping up support for our Olympians and Paralympians.
SASCOC and the support staff are ready to go to London and represent our people. They are ready more than ever before. To the media and other detractors of this capable team, for the 2012 London Olympic, SASCOC have assembled a dedicated support team of deserving individuals who have a vast compass of experience who will provide adequate logistical support, medical and managerial support to all our athletes in the course of the Olympics. They have made a promise to the nation to bring back home twelve or more medals.
Our athletes are also ready more than ever before. During the period towards qualifying, these athletes have been bagging more and more medals and trophies in the pre-Olympics’ competitions. This is a positive sign of a winning nation and excellence. This is the beginning of a journey that we will travel to put South Africa in good shape for the next coming hundred years in sport and recreation in our country and the world.
Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to present to you Team South Africa for the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics Games. Last week we presented the Team to the President of the Republic at President Sefako Makgatho Guest House in Pretoria. The atmosphere was thrilling and exhilarating with our athletes receiving marching orders from the State President.
On that day we called upon all our athletes to go there in London and comeback to South Africa with the most precious 94th Birthday Gift for tata Nelson Mandela and the nation, which is victory and medals.
I would like to again take this opportunity to call upon all our people and nation to rally behind Team South Africa and give all their support to these martyrs as they depart for London tomorrow to make South Africa a proud nation.
In conclusion, in this hour of our destiny, let me close my remarks by again quoting Sun Tzu from his famous book, the Most Influential Strategy in the Art of War:
“In War, numbers are not the issue. It is a question of not attacking too aggressively. Concentrate your strength, assess your enemy, and win with the confidence of your men (and women).This is enough”.
We will join you in London. You are not alone!!You have the support of more than 49 million South African who are 100% behind you!!!
We all say “Go and make us proud Team SA”, “Our future is literally in your hands!!!!!!
Issued by: Sport and Recreation South Africa
18 Jul 2012
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