Minister Marais' Speech at the official start of the Berg River Canoe Marathon
WESTERN CAPE MINISTER OF CULTURAL AFFAIRS AND SPORT, ANROUX MARAIS
BERG RIVER CANOE MARATHON 2019
3 JULY 2019
Good morning, goeiemôre, molweni nonke,
It gives me great pleasure to officially start the 2019 Berg River Canoe Marathon in our icy Paarl this morning.
It is always encouraging when athletes of all ages, genders, cultural backgrounds, religions and nationalities participate in one race, starting and ending at the same point, and this marathon is one such race. Making this marathon all the more significant is the social inclusivity of spectators from the surrounding communities and friends and family to cheer participants on at each bridge. To the spectators the athletes are icons of inspiration and to the paddlers the spectators are beacons of encouragement, feeding off each other’s energies for the betterment of the code as well as community upliftment. Even though the spectators are not officially competing, they too fulfil a motivational role and are therefore active participants in the success of this year’s marathon.
I am even more pleased that following its successful introduction last year, an expanded programme of the Mandela Centenary Freedom Walks will run parallel to the Berg River Canoe Marathon from today until 6 July, affording local communities the opportunity to get involved with the iconic South African sporting event. I am especially hearted by the fact that the walks are free and open to any interested member of the public and will take place in the towns of Paarl, Hermon, Wittewater, Broodkraal and Velddrif, and each finisher will receive a medal to commemorate their participation. The walks range from 2,5km to 9km in distance and will indeed increase recreational mass participation rather than competitive in nature which will undoubtedly amplify the awareness around the marathon.
Ahead of the participants is 240km of paddling and I am sure you have trained to do your utmost best to finish on Saturday. I take this opportunity to wish you well as you make your way through the river. I also thank all those who had a hand in making this year’s marathon a success. Heartfelt gratitude is expressed to all of you for contributing to the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport’s vision of a socially inclusive, active and connected Western Cape.
I thank you.