By Mark Etheridge
South Africa’s macro-sports body, SASCOC, celebrated their 10th birthday in sporting style at a gala evening in Johannesburg on Monday night.
Established on 27 November 2004, the body has steered South African sport through many ups and downs during its short existence and is determined to stay on course for many more years of sporting success.
The evening saw many sports stars in attendance as well as administrators past and present.
Gracing the evening were the President of South Africa, the Honourable Jacob Zuma as well as Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, Deputy Minister Gert Oosthuizen, SASCOC Board members and other dignitaries.
Guests were entertained by various high-class entertainment acts while video clips of SA’s sporting success in the last 10 years were screened for the guests’ entertainment.
Said SASCOC President, Mr Gideon Sam, who is currently serving the second of two four-year terms: ‘Celebrating 10 years of existence is important. We always remember where we came from and those who made contributions to our success.
‘The journey we have travelled saw many “heavy nights and late nights” as sports bodies had to stand back to the macro-body as they were dismantled.
‘We learnt many lessons about the role we play – and we are the glue that keeps South Africa together and united. We provide the necessary stimulation.’
The evening also served as a joint farewell to Team South Africa who depart on Tuesday for the African Region 5 Games in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. These Under-20 Games are a valuable feeder event for South Africa’s sporting youth. These are the fourth multi-code Games that SASCOC have delivered teams to this year, the others being the 2nd African Youth Games in Botswana, the Commonwealth Games in Scotland and the Youth Olympic Games in China.
‘We make it possible for the youngsters here tonight to have their chance of becoming legends in their own right just like Chad le Clos went on to announce himself at the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore four years ago and go on to greatness.
‘I urge our youth to seize the moment in Bulawayo. Two years ago sprinter Akani Simbine showed his potential in these Games in Zambia and has since gone on to represent South Africa at the highest level. Be assured that the country is fully behind you.
‘Now we look forward to the next 100 years of SASCOC success.’
Also in attendance was SASCOC’s inaugural president, Mr Moss Mashishi who said although he played ‘a small part’ in SASCOC’s journey ‘it gives me immeasurable satisfaction to see where we have come’.
During the evening hurdles athlete Rivaldo Roberts was announced as flagbearer for Team South Africa at the opening ceremony of the Region 5 Games.
For his part President Zuma said: ‘SASCOC’s 10-year milestone coincides with South Africa’s 20 years of democracy and we salute the many sporting pioneers.
‘We have made great strides but there’s still a great deal of work to level the playing fields and one of our priorities is to create human settlements with all the relevant facilities. We are concentrating on women in sport, sportsmen and women with disabilities and the national schools programme. It is the schools where we will find our stars of the future.
‘It’s been 10 years of hard work for SASCOC. We wish you strength and success and we are with you all the way.’
Picture of Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula and SASCOC President is courtesy of Wessel Oosthuizen/SASPA