Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
3 minute read
23 Sep 2015
4:47 pm

Varsities to lead development programme for 2022 games

Wesley Botton

Tertiary institutions and existing high performance centres will be utilised in an extensive athlete preparation programme for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, according to SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) president Gideon Sam.

Picture: sportingindustry.co.za

“We’ve had two meetings with the various universities, in order to address how we take athletes from junior to varsity level,” Sam said on Wednesday, at a Games legacy launch in Fourways.

“It’s basically an academy system under the university structures. We want to keep juniors in the system, and the universities will definitely help us if we embrace them and work with their high performance programmes.”

Frank Dick, the former director of coaching for UK Athletics, would act as a consultant between athletes and coaches in the build-up to the Games, while nine-time Major winner Gary Player, who would captain the SA golf team at next year’s Rio Olympics, and former Springbok captain Francois Pienaar, the founder of the Varsity Sport series, would also assist in driving the process forward.

The bid committee for the 2022 Games in Durban, which won a lone race to host the multi-sport spectacle, confirmed earlier this year that R1 billion of the R6.4 billion budget would be spent on athlete preparation.

This would create an expanded version of Sascoc’s Operation Excellence programme, which had come under fire in recent weeks, with elite athletes calling for the national funding and support system to be broadened and restructured.

“We will have a collective at the top to guide the process,” said Sam, the vice-president of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF).

While Sascoc had been widely criticised for its strict selection policies for multi-sport Games in recent years, with the Olympic body focussing on potential medal contenders based on rankings, Sam said larger teams could be sent to the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast and the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, in order to provide younger athletes with experience.

“This does not mean we will throw criteria out the window, but If we build the machine well in advance, when we get to 2022 they can carry our chances,” Sam said.

“We might need to load the 2018 and 2020 teams to give them that exposure.”

Regular squad camps would be held over the next seven years, with a maximum of three per annum, to be hosted by universities around the country.

Meanwhile, CGF chief executive David Grevemberg lauded the Nation of Champions social impact legacy project, launched three weeks after Durban was announced as the host city, which was aimed directly at the youth.

“It’s unprecedented to have such early progress, with the launch of this project, which shows fantastic commitment and it plays into our new

vision as we transform the CGF into a progressive movement,” Grevemberg said.

A hybrid social networking movement for entrepreneurs, the legacy project would create a platform for young adults to find procurement opportunities and tenders.

In the next 12 months, creator Madoda Khuzwayo hoped to have 1 million people registered on the digital platform, which was expected to have an impact on the ground by providing centralised access from around the country.

“Nation of Champions is about ensuring that young people are aware ofthe opportunities that the 2022 Commonwealth Games will make available to them,” Sam said.

The local organising committee for the showpiece would be announced before the end of the year.