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Jack Cheetham, Letsema award winners named

The winners of the 2011 Murray & Roberts Jack Cheetham Memorial Award and Letsema Awards were announced in Johannesburg on 27 October.

The awards were held in partnership with the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) and the Sowetan newspaper. The Jack Cheetham Memorial Award went to the Johannesburg Gymnastics Centre and the Cape Town-based Chaeli Sports & Recreation Club has won the Letsema Award.

The winners of the awards each receive prize money of R500 000, payable over five years. The runner up of the Jack Cheetham award receives R150 000 over three years and the second runner up receives R75 000 over three years. These awards are funded by the Letsema Sizwe Broad-Based Community Trust, part of the broad-based BEE shareholder structure established by Murray & Roberts in 2005.

Commenting on the winners, Murray & Roberts CE Henry Laas said: “The recipients of both prizes are using sport as a vehicle to transform the lives of many young people in their communities. As has been the case with the previous winners of these two awards, we believe that with additional resources they will have an even greater positive impact in future.”

The Jack Cheetham Memorial Award was initiated by Murray & Roberts 30 years ago in recognition of the special qualities of Jack Cheetham, a former director of the company and the inspirational captain of the South African cricket team in the 1950s who was able to instil in young people the belief that they could win. The award targets sports development projects, focusing on individuals or teams that have the potential to be champions.

The Murray & Roberts Letsema Award was initiated in 2009 following the outstanding performance of athlete Hilton Langenhoven who captured the attention of the world at the 2008 Paralympics in Athens. The award recognises sports development projects for people with disabilities

The Johannesburg Gymnastics Centre (JGC) is a Women’s Artistic Gymnastics Club that teaches gymnasts from Beginner to Olympic level. An affiliate of the South African Gymnastics Federation (SAGF), the centre has approximately 100 members, 50% of whom are from previously disadvantaged backgrounds. The centre has developed an exceptional track record, outperforming other clubs in novice competitions this year and representing the majority of gymnasts in the team that attended the 2011 World Championships in Japan.

Six of the centre’s gymnasts were ranked in the top three in the South African 2011 Junior and Senior Olympic trials and 30 have been selected for a prestigious squad that is preparing for the 2016 and 2020 Olympics. Testimony to this excellence is the fact that many gymnasts in South Africa’s national team train under the watchful eyes of the JGC’s coaches: former Protea gymnast and club owner, Ilse Laing (who is one of only three FIG Brevet coaches in South Africa), South African Gymnastics Federation Vice President Shirley Watson and Glen Hlongwane.

With limited funding, the centre uses sport as a vehicle to transform the lives of children in need. It has a volunteer based feeding scheme for children who do not receive adequate nutrition at home and offers life skills and emotional support to those who face significant social challenges. Children with special needs are welcomed at the facility under the guidance of the club’s occupational therapist, while a capacity building programme is currently training three coaches from previously disadvantaged backgrounds, all of whom have been earmarked to represent South Africa as coaches in major international events.
Chaeli Sports & Recreation Club

The Chaeli Campaign was founded in 2004 by teenager, Chaeli Mycroft, along with her sister and family friends as a means of raising funds for a motorised wheelchair for Chaeli who has cerebral palsy. After raising R20 000 in just seven weeks, Chaeli and her team realised that this presented a valuable opportunity to help other South African children with disabilities.

Seven years later, the Chaeli Campaign has grown into a highly effective non-profit organisation that offers nine programmes in support of children with disabilities and reaches approximately 3 000 direct beneficiaries. The original founders have been entrenched as the founding committee and are supported by a team of adult managers led by Chaeli’s mother, Zelda Mycroft.

The Chaeli Sports & Recreation Club, one of the campaign’s programmes, promotes the inclusion of people with disabilities in sport and recreational activities. The club’s main activities are ballroom and Latin American wheelchair dancing and dancing for the intellectually impaired, and the club has been a pioneer of dance sport for the disabled, introducing the first dedicated dance school for the disabled nationally under the FEDANSA banner. Disabled and able-bodied club members are also active participants in a range of other sporting codes including athletics, hand cycling, ten pin bowling, karate and boccia.

The Chaeli Campaign operates in an inclusive environment in which people with disabilities have the opportunity to learn, grow skills and excel, while engaging with broader society, to the benefit of all.


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