About Me

I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).

16 May 2006

Sport and Development

Over the weekend, the UCT Badminton Club hosted the inaugural UCT Schools Challenge, a schools only badminton competition played in a cup format. I am quite proud of the turnout considering it was my pet project, and 66 boys and girls participated from about 10 different schools. It is my pet project, and like the UCT Open, I hope that it becomes an annual event.

Badminton was once a very popular sport at UCT, and during the bad old days of apartheid in the 70's, UCT was once the strongest clubs in the country featuring a number of South African players. In fact, the UCT Sports Team of the Year trophy is called the Doug Butterworth Trophy after a past chairperson of both the UCT Badminton club and the WP Badminton Association. But being a white dominated sport in the past has meant that the sport is in dire need of "transformation" in some parts of the country. Furthermore, because it is not a professional sport in South Africa, there is very little money in the sport. This is despite the fact that it is also an Olympic sport, but then look at swimming and sponsorship and it is easy to see that money only flows to Cricket, Rugby and Soccer.

Regardless of these hindrances, badminton is a huge sport in Oceanview, a predominantly coloured community in the Cape Flats. And there are two very good reasons for this. First and foremost is Dorian James, currently one of the top four South African players (and off course a two time winner of the UCT Open ;)). His rise to the top (and also his brother Enrico) has meant that the community has something to celebrate. Secondly is the involvement of Chris James and Francois Wessels in the development of the sport in the community, pushing it in to the schools. This has resulted in even more results with virtually the entire South African U19 squad coming from Oceanview.

It is the last fact that has really inspired other kids - to see that their friends have come to the level that they are traveling around the country and overseas. In the Schools Challenge, the largest percentage of the kids were from Oceanview, and they had teams in both the girls and boys semi-finals, with one of the boys teams loosing the final is a very close deciding match and one of the girls teams winning the finals. It is in them, that the results of development can really be seen, and ultimately measured.

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