Executive Mayor : Cllr Eugen Johnson

Deputy Minister : Nocawe Mafu

MEC for Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture

Chief Gwadiso : HTL chair

MP’s , MPLs and CLLRs present

Presidents and Leaders of Sports Federations

HoD and all Government Officials

Our esteemed athletes

Distinguished guests

Ladies and gentlemen

Mholweni e Pondweni.

It gives me great pleasure to be amongst you tonight to give accolades to our athletes. Tonight, is all about rewarding excellence in sports, a sector of society that entertains us and gives us a sense of national pride. We are here to recognize the athletes and teams who raised the Eastern Cape Flag high in various sporting codes. It is such a joyous occasion to be able to meet physically this way after Covid-19 put a stop to programmes of this nature.

I think it is only proper that I preface my message for today by quoting a distinguished athlete who knew how to win, who took loses in his strides and a global icon who entertained the peoples of the world through his talent and passion for his chosen sporting code. The man I am referring to is Muhammand Ali. He once said: “I hated every minute of training, but I said, don’t quit, suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”

I guess many of the athletes gathered here would attest to how the late Muhammad Ali felt like about rigorous training and sacrifices that athletes make to become champions. This comes with the territory of your God given talents. Not everyone is talented enough to be successful in sports. Uninzi lwethu luwa endleni.

I always thought I was good in soccer growing up, but when I see the talent of professional players today in the Premier Soccer League, I think I am ok in politics. What I am trying to say to the athletes is that they are a special group of people in our society. Only the achievements of our athletes and teams can unite our nation across racial lines. When our teams win major sporting tournaments South Africans forget about our socio-economic challenges for a moment and celebrate as one. The recent WAFCON win by Banyana Banyana is a case in point where our nation united in celebration of our football Queens.

The Banyana Banyana win was extra special for us in the province because six our girls were in that conquering squad. I understand that they are here tonight so let us give them a solid round of applause.

Programme Director and distinguished guests I have observed for quiet some time now that sporting talent in the Eastern Cape is one of the comparative advantages, we are not fully exploiting to alleviate poverty and unemployment. When we say we are the Home of Legends we refer to legends across society and many of our Legends distinguished themselves in sports. Therefore, sporting talent is in the DNA of our youth, and we must unearth it and nurture it. We can only do that when we pay attention to grassroots sports development. We must put more emphasis on school sports and sports development generally in our communities because that is where the laden talent is hidden.

You know when the Scenery Park Enyobeni Tragedy hit us, everyone said our youth should be in stadiums on weekends and not in Tarvens and we agree fully with that notion. It must then follow that municipalities should prioritise development of sports infrastructure in our communities, particularly in the new human settlements that we are building. A Human settlement must have houses, schools, clinics and sports fields to be fully aligned to our developmental goals.

Ndiyayazi kex a kufikwa kwi sport development soloko kukhalwa ngemali engonelanga. I mali soze yonela bantu bakuthi leyo into kufuneka siyazi. Kwaye zininzi nezinye izinto zophuhliso ezifuna imali. We must be creative with the little resources we have and maximise impact.

I will talk to the Finance MEC to see if we cannot increase the budget that is allocated for the sports programme of DSRAC. I am told that currently the budget is R166.5 million for this financial year, with R61 million for sport development, R95 million for recreation which includes conditional grant from National Government and only a meagre R7.2 million for school sport.

Yabona ke kukhona ugqqwetheka kwe priorities kulendlela saba ngayo imali. How can school sports get a mere R7.2 million while recreation gets a bigger budget. I asked what is Recreation wathi umntu kudlawa nogqaphu apho kuvocwa-vocwa nje imizimba. No, no we must prioritise school sports. Bagotywa bebatsha kaloku abantwana. Ukuba sibaphosa phaya ezantsi senza impazamo enkulu. So, if we agree with the Finance MEC to top up the sports budget that money will be ringfenced for school sports and don’t want it to be used to hire staff but to get leaners playing competitive sports regularly.

At the Amateur level of sport from 2019 to date DSRAC has spent about R45million from District to National Level. For Professional Sport the Expenditure has not been much due to COVID 19 as it came to about R8million. I think we can do more in this regard in partnership with the private sector.

Government alone cannot fund all sporting activities we need the private sector to play ball. I know many commercial banks and companies sponsor professional teams in the country and my question is why they are only investing in finished products. What about the grassroots? What are about the kids who play with makeshift soccer and rugby balls. What are about those who play soccer barefoot because their parents cannot afford to buy them soccer boots?

As government we are thinking of setting up a Corporate Social Investment Fund through Provincial Treasury that will be biased towards Sport in the province. We will engage the private sector to invest towards this fund as part of their CSI. We would love to see big business in our Province playing a significant role in funding talent search programs, academies in our Province , particularly OEMs. The Province national market share in car manufacturing is at about 43 %. These are cars that are manufactured by workers from this poor and seriously underdeveloped Province. Come and join government to broadene horizons of young people in this province.

I wish to appreciate the work that the National Lotteries Commission is doing in our province. Since 2019, the NLC has spent R190 million into sport development in the province. That money cuts across school sports, sports clubs and recreation NGOs and indigenous games. Through that money sports equipment has been bought and distributed to schools and clubs including upgrading and construction of new sporting facilities.

Sports is an integral part of our government’s developmental plans. Xa sithetha nge social cohesion, sport is one of the vehicles we use to unite our people in the country, continent and in the world.

So, the athletes we are celebrating tonight must understand the role they play in the bigger picture of social cohesion in the world. All the nominees for tonight have made a great contribution to sports. I wish to congratulate all the finalists for setting the bar high in sporting excellence. You might not know it yet, but your exploits have inspired our youth to dream big.

We wish all athletes long injury free careers so they can continue to entertain local and international sports fans and make a living from their chosen sporting codes. We cannot forget the role played by coaches and sport administrators because without them the sport eco-system is not complete.

Let me also take this opportunity appreciate and extend a sincere word of gratitude Mr. Chippa Mpengesi and Chippa United for the sterling developmental programs they are doing in our Province, touching souls of destitute and changing lives of the most neglected in our societies. To unveil your New Jersey, Coach and Players in rural areas Mntambo it’s a serious commitment in rural development, it warms our heats and that can’t be taken for granted .

I would like to close by acknowledging the contribution of Honourable Fezeka Nkomonye and all her endavors during her time as MEC at Desrac . MEC Kontsiwe foundation has been laid by your predecessors , build on this solid foundation . I urge stakeholders to work and support MEC Kontsiwe to take the work of the department forward.

All the best to all the nominees and congratulations in advance to all winners .

Thank you.

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