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Youngsters zone in

The cream of South Africa’s young sporting talent head for the Zone VI Games in Mbabane, Swaziland on Thursday.

Representing the Under-20 age group, competitors in seven different sports take on their southern African counterparts in the fourth staging of the games, held every two years.

Sending them on their way SASCOC president Gideon Sam said there would be a watchful eye on the youngsters from the country’s Olympic governing body.

“This is where we spot you. It’s here that you appear on the radar in our structured sporting progress going forward.

“If you do well at these games the sporting world will open up to you in future.”

Sam said that the athletes needed to give their all but at the same time make the most of their opportunity.

“We’ve now won this competition a few times at this level but we need to keep it up and keep it that way. Go and play ball, embrace your continental neighbors, do your best but remember at all times that you are ambassadors for your country.”

Also at the farewell function near the OR Tambo airport were the Minister of Sport and Recreation Fikile Mbalula and Deputy Minister Gert Oosthuizen.

Mbalula encouraged the athletes to “be driven by your ambition and passion. You must enjoy it while you are young. Win your medals now so that you can prove your excellence to your own kids one day.

“By all means have fun in Swaziland, show them that we mean business as South Africans but remember to keep the fun-times until you’ve won your medal!”

Kaya Majeke, project manager of the team, the third time he’s fulfilled this role at the Games, said he was confident of South African upholding their status as the southern region’s sporting powerhouse.

“The swimming officials tell me that already after the third day of competition we’ll be able to celebrate, so many medals will we have won.”

Sports being contested at the Games are: athletics (also for the visually impaired), basketball (men and women), boxing, football (men and women), netball, swimming and tennis. Swimming boasts the biggest contingent. The Games are scheduled to end on 18 December.