Ladies and gentlemen, legends, colleagues, these awards have become one of the annual highlights for me, and it gives me great pleasure to once again meet and dine with the Western Cape's sporting legends.
With a history as painful as South Africa's there are still many scars. We lived through times when the colour of your skin prevented you from stepping out onto the sports field, no matter how much talent you were blessed with. We lived through a time where our own brothers and sisters left South Africa to go and play for other countries, which welcomed them, and saw only a great sporting star, they didn't see in black and white.
Thankfully that time has passed, but it would have been far worse and its painful legacy more damaging, were it not for many of you. Through your refusal to be put down by a racist political system, through your commitment to uplift your community and train your neighbours and their children, through your fighting and sporting spirit, we now live in a true democracy. A democracy that is colour-blind, except at times when it seeks to correct past injustices through rigid racial systems once again. But we won't get into that today, because here in the Western Cape we focus on talent development, something that all of you possess. No matter your age that talent stays with you, it is yours, and yours to share and grow others.
Every year we acknowledge sporting icons from a different set of codes, and with the many that we have, we can only do a select few every year. This year we'd like to recognise the living legends among us, the sporting icons and people who have given a lifetime of service to Badminton, Rugby, Sailing, Canoe, Dance Sport (Fedensa), and Netball in the Western Cape.
If some of you are still active in your communities, I'd like to share my department's strategy on school sport development and invite any interested sportsmen and women to find out from the department where they can get involved if they would like to share their knowledge and skills with our youth.
In the Western Cape we have the MOD centre pilot programme. While many of you will know about this, I would like to share it with those that don't. A MOD centre, which stands for Mass Participation, Access and Opportunity and Development, is the tool that this Provincial Government is using to grow talent among our youth.
At the more than 150 MOD centres in the province, all placed in previously disadvantaged communities or at schools without the proper infrastructure for a functioning sport programme, we have provided equipment for 21 sporting codes, and two coaches at each centre, five times a week, from the hours of 14:00-18:00. Different schools specialise in specific sporting codes, but all offer basic ball skills and hand-eye co-ordination development for the foundation level youths.
Every two months we host a SHARP centre, which is our high performance centre for the talented youth identified at the MOD centres in the different regions. Here, the exceptionally talented are taken up into the Western Cape Sport School, or into the different clubs and federations for further talent development, ultimately leading to possible sporting careers and opportunities. This is what we believe to be a natural and organic way to address transformation. So if you would like to get involved in assisting our coaches with school sport development please speak to my department, you would be most welcome.
Ladies and gentlemen, I'm not going to take up any more of your time, let's get down to business and see who the living legends among us are.