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Limpopo honours top sports stars

By Zöe Mahopo | 2017-10-13 15:31:11.0

Top athletes were given an opportunity to shine during the 2017 Limpopo Sport and Recreation Awards ceremony held at the Protea Hotel Ranch Resort in Polokwane on October 1.

The event reflected the provincial Department of Sport, Arts and Culture's commitment in declaring 2017 "The year of the athlete".

With a total of 18 categories, the awards recognised some of South Africa's most celebrated athletes, including middle-distance sensation Caster Semenya, who scooped the award for Limpopo's sportswoman of the year.

The sportsman of the year award went to softball wizard Tidima Kekana, while Mamelodi Sundowns' defensive midfielder Hlompho Kekana was awarded Limpopo's sports star of the year. Incidentally, both Kekanas hail from Zebediela.

Athletes from the across the province, along with other stakeholders in the sports fraternity, were treated to musical performances and traditional dances to mark the momentous occasion.

MEC for Sports, Arts and Culture Onicca Moloi said the recognition of hard-working athletes was key in developing sport in the province.

Moloi said athletes would continue to be at the centre of the department's plans.

"For us as government, all people who participate in sports in one way or another are winners, even if they don't get nominated," she said.

Moloi said government was committed to creating a conducive environment for athletes in the various sporting codes to thrive.

"All our athletes at both development and professional levels are like a precious stone that we all admire," she said.

Moloi said sporting codes such as rugby, cricket, chess and swimming would be promoted in previously disadvantaged communities.

This year the department launched the "Chess in Schools" project where public schools in the Waterberg district were presented with two chess sets each. Moloi said the chess programme was aimed at raising a generation of critical thinkers.

The department is also looking forward to launching the swimming programme, which is expected to benefit more than 300 children. The programme will be rolled out in partnership with Limpopo Aquatics.

Moloi also took the time to thank and acknowledge partner Standard Bank and sponsors, including Audi Centre Polokwane, Engine, Sun Meropa, De Beers, Park Inn and Selaki Sport Leisure.

Treasury MEC Rob Tooley, who gave the keynote address in his capacity as acting premier, said the awards served as an opportunity to honour talented athletes of Limpopo.

"Sportsmen and women in this hall will agree with me when I say that there can be no greater honour for any person, whether in literature, music or sports, than to be honoured and to be appreciated at home," Tooley said.