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President’s Voice ÔÇô Gideon Sam

Our many National Federations must be complimented for the work they do in their junior divisions around the clock and around the country.

The recently finished African Youth Games in Gaborone, Botswana clearly shows that our juniors are well prepared and the their performances were out of the top drawer.

On the night of the Opening Ceremony at the national stadium they signalled their resolve to do well at the Games.

The huge crowd at the opening ceremony showed appreciation for the huge South African team as it entered the venue for the march past. It is difficult to say, but I think that some countries were visibly intimidated.

The spectacular opening ceremony was followed by the real thing; the competition itself. With all the teething challenges behind us, the Games could really focus on the field of play.

Our athletes focused on the business at hand and at the halfway mark, the medals confirmed the seriousness of our athletes. I saw very dedicated coaches and managers and this augers well for the future of South African sport.

We have been appealing to Federations to have separate personnel for juniors and seniors. We should not be seeing the same people at all our major competitions, but there should be separation of personnel to give our athletes the best support.

We want athletes to know who they are working with and by whom they are being managed.

The support team in the SASCOC office was once again excellent as they have now perfected the art of taking care of all the administrative issues and allowing the managers, coaches and athletes to focus on their competitions.

Going around to the venues, I was impressed by outstanding performances in sevens rugby (the boys didn’t concede a single point in any of their Games en route to the gold medal), swimming (our team’s main medal contributors), karate (not something we normally associate with close to 10 medals at a Games) and it was great to see some boxing medals (being a devout fan of the pugilistic arts!)

And even to those codes who didn’t win medals on this occasion, the experience gained at these Games can’t be over-estimated and who knows, any of the athletes wearing the green and gold, could one day be our next Commonwealth or Olympic champion.

We again would like to appeal to our Federations to keep a sharp eye on their juniors in terms of the programmes available for juniors in the Federations.

If we honestly do this, we are assured of a steady flow of top performers over the years  to come.