Creating a Hub for Sporting Excellence on West Coast
Producing athletes of excellence and giving hope to communities on the West Coast is a long-term vision for the recently established regional sport academy system. An initiative to help achieve this goal was launched at the Protea Hotel in Saldanha Bay on Saturday, 16 February 2013.
The establishment of the West Coast Sport Academy System was a result of a partnership between the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport (DCAS), West Coast Sport Council, South African National Defence Force (SANDF), Saldanha Bay Municipality and the various West Coast Federations.
The initial phase of the academy system includes the sport codes of rugby, cricket, kickboxing, gymnastics, football, athletics, water sport and netball. The aim is to provide support to these codes in the hope of producing talented athletes who will excel in their respective codes to achieve top honours in sport.
The initiative was lauded by stakeholders. The Executive Mayor of Saldanha Bay, Mr Francois Schippers, said it is evident that this initiative is committed to making a difference in the lives of athletes who are actively involved in sport. “It is important to give youth the opportunity to develop in sport as well as broaden their life skills. We hope this initiative will reach out, especially in rural communities, where the youth are limited with opportunities,” said Schippers.
The Department is confident that this initiative will play a positive role. Speaking at the launch, Adv Lyndon Bouah, Chief Director of Sport and Recreation said the partnership will enable them to achieve their creative vision which will potentially produce athletes of excellence. “This partnership, where all spheres of government (national, provincial and local) and SANDF are working together, is an example for the rest of the country. This shows that we are dedicated to promoting sport in our province,” said Bouah.
SANDF are honoured to play a part in this initiative. Brig. Gen. Gordon Mzwandile Yekelo said this will give meaning to social development in communities, and bring athletes into the mainstream of life. “This initiative will make everyone proud of the West Coast,” said Yekelo.
One of the highlights of the initiative is that everyone is included, and has a key role to play. Mr Bennett Bailey of the Department said the system will strive to identify talented athletes from sport codes with limited exposure and provide assistance for growth. “By doing this, we will ensure that we are an active and winning nation who are committed to producing future Olympians,” he added.