Sports developers honoured

Victor Mecoamere

Victor Mecoamere

Unsung heroes in sports development are numberless. Only a few receive deserving praise.

An the plaudits are rarely paired with sorely needed financial assistance to help them nurture world-beating talents.

One nation-building partnership that is praising and honouring gallant youth development efforts is the Jack Cheetham Memorial Award.

Honouring former Murray and Roberts director and 1950s South African cricket team captain, Jack Cheetham, this sporting accolade is driven by Murray and Roberts, the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee and Sowetan.

The award is part of the youth development activities of the Aggrey Klaaste Nation Building Foundation.

The 2008 Jack Cheetham Memorial Award winner and runner-up will be announced in Johannesburg tomorrow.

In July, four sporting codes were shortlisted for the two top places, which seek to instil a winning, champion's spirit in young people. These are:

l Judo for the blind and visually impaired;

l Tiger Titans Cricket Club;

l Boccia in South Africa; and the Welkom Wrestling Club.

Winners of the 2007 Jack Cheetham Memorial Award, the KwaNobuhle Hockey Development Programme in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, have made great strides since they received a R500000 windfall last September.

KwaNobuhle Hockey caters for about 750 children aged between eight and 18 from 20 primary and secondary schools.

It is supervised by South African Hockey Association development cricket administrator Gary Dolley.

Its lead coaches are Jeremy Mambalu and Sebastian Saamdaan.

Thanks to the cash injection, KwaNobuhle Hockey has:

l Established KwaNobuhle Stars, a three-team hockey squad that is competing in the Eastern Cape Cricket League;

l Produced two members of the formidable Eastern Province Cricket squad - female teens Zikhona Klaas and Thandile Bob;

l Nurtured potential superstar Melekhaya Mdutyana, who has broken into the South African cricket team;

l Started a high-performance programme aimed at identifying and nurturing more aspirants for the provincial and national cricket squads; and

l Started training senior players, including Klaas, Bob and Mdutyana, to become potential coaches and umpires to enhance their status as role models.

Interestingly, Mambalu's other pet project, the Zwide Invaders Hockey Club, which he coached until 2001 when he was recruited by his mentor - Dolley - is still thriving under his pals Thembinkosi Matyumza and Mbulelo Yiba.