Shame on you, SA companies

GOOD IDEA: Hendrick Ramaala. Pic. Unknown ©
GOOD IDEA: Hendrick Ramaala. Pic. Unknown ©

Hendrick Ramaala, pictured, is one prominent South African athlete known for speaking his mind, especially on matters relating to sport.

Hendrick Ramaala, pictured, is one prominent South African athlete known for speaking his mind, especially on matters relating to sport.

Ramaala hit the nail on the head last week when he blasted the South African corporate world for channeling more funds into the ultra marathons.

He said it was disappointing that successful black athletes such as Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, Khotso Mokoena and Poppy Mlambo do not have personal sponsorship.

Ironically, Ramaala - South Africa's most successful runner on the international front - does not have a single sponsor too.

Ramaala rightly points out that giving huge sponsorship deals to ultras by companies was contributing to the decline of the sport in South Africa.

The reason is simple - there is an array of huge incentives in the ultras as compared to your 10kms, 15kms, half-marathons (20km) and standard marathons (42km).

It is against this background that runners aged 16 think the Comrades Marathon, the Two Oceans and many others are the best athletics events in the land.

Top runners, especially those from the Eastern bloc, are also known to be given fat contracts by their clubs. One runner is reportedly getting about R20 000 a month. However, black South African runners get R2 000 and are also forced to run "a few more races" for the club, named after a major company, to get more publicity.

In the townships, clubs apply to their provincial structures to host road races - mainly 10km or 15km events - on a yearly basis to develop the sport.

Those clubs would sent out many application letters to the corporate world for financial assistance to pay cash prizes, buy medals and T-shirts for participants.

It is sad that today, 13 years into our democracy, companies still go an extra mile to sponsor a marathon in Houghton, Rustenburg, Benoni or Cape Town.

However, clubs in Soweto, Umlazi, Mdantsane or Seshego are always sent from pillar to post for a mere donation to host a 10km development race. It is disappointing that the status quo remains despite the fact that our black brothers and sisters are chief executive and owners of many companies.

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