Assist these athletes

The dismal performance of Team South Africa at the 24th World Student Games has once more highlighted the country's urgent need to seriously review development programmes with the aim of doing well at the Olympics as well as in other competitions.

The dismal performance of Team South Africa at the 24th World Student Games has once more highlighted the country's urgent need to seriously review development programmes with the aim of doing well at the Olympics as well as in other competitions.

For starters, the World Student Games are a biennial tournament where about 155 countries take part in 13 sports codes.

For the record, South Africa won four medals - one gold, two silver and one bronze - all from athletics.

The South African Student Sports Union (Sassu) has been taking part in this prestigious tournament since 1995 in Fukuoka, Japan, with very little financial support for the participants.

Some lucky students get 100 percent participation costs - R12500 - paid for them to compete at the Games by their tertiary institutions, while others have to ask their parents to pay half of the required money.

Mapaseka Makhanya, a promising 800m athlete, had to pay R6250 to take part after her institution paid 50 percent of the required money.

Poppy Mlambo and Tebogo Masehla withdrew from the competition because they could not raise the required balance.

As is the case with Olympic Games and other major global sports competitions, athletics - to be more specific - has consistently brought medals back to the country.

Some South African athletes who are now superstars after winning World Student Games medals include Hezekiel Sepeng, Frantz Kruger, Leigh Julius, Alwyn Myburgh, Esttie Wittstock and Ruben Ramolefi.

The tournament has proved to be a great platform for athletes from world sports superpowers such as Australia, the US, Jamaica, Cuba, China, Japan and Russia to announce their arrival on the international sporting arena.

It is against this background that the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee and its federations should seriously support Sassu in as far as the World Student Games are concerned.

A case in point is women's soccer, where Safa refused to release some of the players for the tournament in Bangkok, despite the fact that they were warming the bench at Banyana Banyana.

South African sports will always look up to athletics only for medals if we do not put our heads together.

Of hoe, Bra Moss (Mashishi)?

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