Honours for our champions

SOUTH Africa will honour its unheralded champions of sustainable development in sport through the yearly Murray and Roberts Jack Cheetham Memorial Award. The awards will take place in October in Johannesburg.

SOUTH Africa will honour its unheralded champions of sustainable development in sport through the yearly Murray and Roberts Jack Cheetham Memorial Award. The awards will take place in October in Johannesburg.

Named after Jack Cheetham, who was a director of the company and South African cricket team captain in the 1950s, the award is a nation-building partnership project of Murray and Roberts, the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee and Sowetan.

This award honours Cheetham's inspirational and motivational ideals and immense contribution to sports unity and development. It is the most popular corporate social investment and responsibility project of Murray and Roberts. Sowetan has made the award a part of the Aggrey Klaaste Nation Building Foundation's youth and community development projects portfolio.

In the sustainable sports development category, the finalists are the Alexandra Trampoline Club, Irene Tennis Development Programme and South African Tug of War Federation.

This year's disabled sports category finalists are the Bears Wheelchair Basketball Club, Judo for the Blind and Visually Impaired and the South African Disabled Golf Association.

In 2006, the award was won by the Nelson Mandela Township (Nemato) Rowing Club in Eastern Cape, for teaching rowing to children from disadvantaged communities.

In 2007 the Kwanobuhle Hockey Development Programme in Port Elizabeth won for arranging coaching from Eastern Cape hockey professional Jeremy Mambalu for about 750 children, who then participated in regional leagues.

In 2008 the winner was the Welkom Wrestling Club development programme. The club is led by Jan Bezuidenhout, a Welkom farmer and former Springbok wrestler and coach. In 1992, Bezuidenhout decided to use wrestling as a vehicle for personal and community empowerment by training youths in Welkom, Thabong and Bronville.

At the 2008 awards, Murray and Roberts decided to provide funding for sports people with disabilities from the dividend gains from the company's Letsema Sizwe Broad-Based Community Trust. The trust has identified disabled Beijing Paralympics gold medallist runner Hilton Langenhoven as a beneficiary.

Impressed by his inspirational and truly motivational abilities to conquer almost insurmountable obstacles, the company's Letsema Sizwe has allocated R100000 a year over five years to Langenhoven to prepare for the 2012 Paralympics.

Boccia for the Severely Disabled and Judo for the Blind and Visually Impaired became the 2009 disabled sports beneficiaries. Each project received R50000 a year for three years.

Boccia for the Severely Disabled is a form of indoor bowls played by people with severe disabilities. Its local pioneer, Ruon van Zyl, introduced Boccia to schools for the disabled across South Africa and today, more than 500 disabled South Africans participate in this Olympic sport.

Judo for the Blind and Visually Impaired's leading lights are Mike and Lorraine Job, who are sixth degree judo black belts and instructors. The introduced judo to the Athlone School for the Blind in Cape Town.

By 2008 the pilot group had doubled to 68 participants, 15 of whom were selected to represent the winning Western Province team at the first National Championships for the South African Sports Association for the Physically Disabled.

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