Schools to Square Off in Sport Championship

The Department of Sport and Recreation is ready to host the five-day 2014 National School Sport Championship in the City of Tshwane, Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula announced on Tuesday.

“There is no school that is not interested in participating in the various sporting codes. We need to make sure that it is fundamental to what we want to achieve as a nation when it comes to development.

“We are ready to host 10 000 young participants from all over the country. This is not a rally. It is a rigorous sport championship culminating from the schools league programme, where schools compete in-school, inter-school, at local level, district level, provincial level and national level,” the Minister said.

This will be the third National School Sport Championship. The opening ceremony of the annual tournament will be held at Pilditch Stadium on Wednesday at 6pm.

Minister Mbalula, who described the championship as the bedrock of the country’s sport development, said in the 2015 academic year, all the country’s 27 000 schools should play sport every Wednesday.

“The school sport programme is part of government’s efforts towards the creation of an active and winning nation. Government is aware that to create tomorrow’s legends, whose contribution to the sport and recreation landscape will lead to sustainable social cohesion and nation building, today’s athletes need to be supported and their talent nurtured.

“The National School Sport Championship is the beginning of the journey to a winning nation – a nation that conquers its own continent and goes on to compete against the best in the world,” he said.

Sport and Recreation Director-General Alec Moemi said next year, they will start with the random testing of learners at the School Championship.

Moemi said while they have prioritised netball, football, rugby, cricket and athletics, learners will this year participate in 14 different sporting codes.

The sporting codes are athletics (cross-country), basketball, chess, cricket, football, gymnastics, goalball, netball, volleyball, swimming, table tennis, tennis, hockey and rugby, including four indigenous games jukskei, kgati, khokho and morabaraba.

Granville Whittle, the Deputy Director-General responsible for Care and Support at the Department of Basic Education, said sport had a direct influence on academic performance.

“Learning becomes easier for kids who participate in sport because playing sport makes them healthy. As a department, we support this programme. We value the importance of investing in administrators and coaches.

“We are, however, worried because it is mainly boys who are actively participating in various school sport codes,” said Whittle.

Dr Alfred Nevhutanda from the National Lotteries Board said their involvement in the championship will help to develop the sporting fraternity in the country.

“We will always offer our financial support to ensure that learners throughout the country, especially those from historically disaantaged communities, are participating in sport.”

The matches of the championship, themed ‘Today’s athletes, tomorrow’s legends’, will be played at 23 venues around the City of Tshwane, with the main centre being the University of Pretoria.

Moemi said the majority of the sporting codes also offer versions played by learners with some form of intellectual impairment or physical disability.

The inaugural National School Sport Championship was staged in 2012 in Pretoria. Last year, the competition was held in Bloemfontein.

The best school in the country will be honoured at the closing ceremony to be held at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville on December 15. –

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