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Sports bursary to build future champs

Written by Nthambeleni Gabara

Sport, arts and culture

The first group of schoolgoing athletes, who received the Ministerial Sport Bursary Scheme, represent the potential of future champions of South Africa, says Sport and Recreation Director- General, Alec Moemi.

Sports and Recreation South Africa Director General Alec Moemi surrounded by the lucky young athletes who were awarded sports bursaries totalling R100 000 eachFourteen talented and successful learners, who participated in the School Sport Championships in Kempton Park recently, received bursaries worth R100 000 each.

“The importance of the Ministerial Sport Bursary Scheme is to broaden the huge talent which is untapped in the country, largely because mass participation programmes have not been broadened and we don’t have a robust talent identification programme in the country.

“It is for that reason that we’ve instituted this bursary scheme to support and nurture the talent of these athletes. We believe that these children represent the potential future champions of our country,” said Moemi.

The Department of Sport and Recreation launched the South Africa School Programme in December 2011, in partnership with the Department of Basic Education. The programme kicked off last year with a countrywide registration programme for schools that were interested in taking part in the 2012 School Sport Leagues and National Championships.

The National Championships, together with the School Sport Leagues, saw all nine provinces strongly represented in nine sporting codes registered for the 2012 academic year.

Nurturing young talent

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula unveiled the Ministerial Sport Bursary Scheme to reward the efforts of all talented young athletes in schools. This bursary scheme will award and support all the promising and dedicated school-going athletes to unleash their potential.

The bursary is valued at R100 000 per learner, with 40 per cent reserved for tuition; 48 per cent for scientific support, and 12 per cent for logistical support, such as transport. The bursary scheme will play a big role in helping the department to provide an enabling environment for grassroots sport development and high performance.

“This effort, together with all our interventions, will ensure that all our talented athletes in the school-going age are adequately supported and a conducive environment is created for their development and nurturing at all times, including providing them with a balanced, nurturing programme, with an emphasis on both academic and sport excellence,” said Moemi.

“We will not rest until all our children are given an equal opportunity to participate freely in sport and recreation,” he added.

Lukhanyo Grootboom, 14, a basketball player from Montevideo Primary School in the Western Cape says, “I’m grateful for being selected as one of the sport bursary recipients and I will use it wisely, so that I will probably become one of the best basketball players in the country in the near future.”

The bursary, which targets learners from Grade 8 – 12, will be only be valid as long as the learner is in school until matric. However, Moemi said if a learner fails and repeats an academic year, the bursary will be terminated immediately.

“That is why we emphasise a balanced academic and sport achievement and outcomes. It is our belief that this support will ultimately pay-off in the next 10 - 15 years to come. This investment in the holistic development and nurturing of our young athletes will go a long way to assist us in the realisation of our National Sport and Recreation Plan – Vision 2030.”

The bursary recipients will from now on have an opportunity to pursue both academic and sport programmes with structured support and guidance. They will have all the opportunities they want to acquire extra skills, knowledge and attitude that will benefit their participation in sport programmes, whilst at the same time contributing positively towards academic and sport results.

The athletes will also have an added opportunity to be guided by qualified and professional sport scientists, biokineticists, nutritionists and other experienced specialists in the field of medical and sport science. These athletes are attached to their nearest District or Provincial Academy with a dedicated scientific support unit to fulfill the requirements of this support.