Sport and Recreation South Africa (SRSA) is working together with the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport (DCAS) and others to help preserve the history of South African sport through exhibitions and educational programmes.
A human rights-oriented exhibition called Meet the Heroes of the Sport Struggle, is currently on display at the University of the Western Cape. It pays tribute to the sporting icons who played their part in the struggle against apartheid. On Wednesday, 20 March 2013, various dignitaries remembered these heroes at the launch event.
Mr Henry Paulse of DCAS said, through the exhibition, athletes have endeavoured to do ordinary things , like playing sport , under extraordinary and abnormal circumstances. He added that, in order to appreciate the state of sport today and where it is heading, it is important to know where we came from.
Under apartheid, countless people of colour were denied the opportunity to compete at the highest level in sport. Despite this, many of them ran cricket leagues, boxing academies and soccer teams without any institutional support. They helped to inspire generations of people, and their legacy lives on.
Ms Noziphiwe Lubanga of SRSA said the selfless contribution of these heroes to sport has helped to ensure that everyone can participate in sport today. “This exhibition highlights our heritage and ensures that the efforts of our sporting heroes are remembered”, she said. SRSA is expected to roll out similar exhibitions and educational initiatives in museums, libraries and schools throughout the country.
Labanga added that while tribute has been paid in the exhibition to specific individuals, there are many more unsung heroes who contributed to achieving democracy in sport. “On-going research into our history is needed to recognise them all and tell their stories to ensure that our heritage is not lost.”
Today we are fortunate to enjoy complete freedom in sport in South Africa, yet we should not forget the past. This exhibition, which runs from 20 March to 30 April 2013, commemorates the people and events of the struggle in sport that helped bring about democracy.