Winners of Jack Cheetham Memorial, Letsema Awards announced | SASCOC - SASCOC

Winners of Jack Cheetham Memorial, Letsema Awards announced

Thursday night saw Murray & Roberts awarding their annual Jack Cheetham Memorial and Letsema Awards to two amateur sporting clubs in both their able-bodied and disabled categories.

The awards, held in conjunction with the South African Sport Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC), were held in Sandton Johannesburg and recognise the character and ideals of Jack Cheetham, a former director of Murray & Roberts and captain of the South African cricket team in the 1950s and reward those who contribute to the development of sport in South Africa.

The Jack Cheetham Award for sports development projects for able-bodied persons was awarded to the Paarl Canoe Development programme, while the Letsema Award for people with disabilities went to Shumbashaba Horse Helping People. Both these projects win R500000 payable over five years.

The runner-up for the Jack Cheetham Award went to the Sedibeng Korfball Region with Golden Lions Gymnastics taking third prize, while in the Letsema category, Rowing for the Physically Disabled and Judo Institute for Special Needs took second and third place respectively.

Runners-up in each category receive R150,000 over three years each, while the third place winners receive R75,000 over the same period.

For Group Chief Executive,Henry Laas, these awards are a way for Murray & Roberts to actively make a difference. Its hard to believe that we are in our third decade of the awards says Laas. We are constantly inspired by the way in which these projects use sport as a vehicle to transform the lives of so many young South Africans.



Paarl Canoe Club Development Programme
The Paarl Canoe Club Development Programme has for many years been encouraging and enabling kayaking as a sport among previously disadvantaged youths in the Western Cape. The programme focuses on both development and high performance and has achieved significant results, dominating the South African National School sprints in recent years and producing domestic and international gold medal winners, including Luke Stowman who has been identified as a leading prospect for the 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games. Coach Wayne August, an early beneficiary of the programme, has trained many of South Africas national sprint and marathon champions and is a powerful role model to his younger protges.

Sedibeng Korfbal Region
The Sedibeng Korfbal Region has been promoting korfball as a sport to previously disadvantaged youth in Emfuleni for over 15 years. The project began in Bophelong and rapidly expanded to Boipatong, Sebokeng, Sharpeville and Evaton, where it has enabled hundreds of children to participate in competitive sport and be mentored by older Korfbal champions in their communities. In 2012, 862 children involved in the project participated in domestic korfball tournaments, 41 were selected to represent South Africa in the sport and over the years, a number of its participants have achieved their Protea colours and gone on to develop careers as coaches. The project was initiated by Hein van der Lith, who continues to be its driving force, ably assisted by Paulos Masiloane.

Golden Lions Gymnastics
Golden Lions Gymnastics is a community upliftment project for children from Westbury, Newclare, Claremont and Newlands in Johannesburg. The project gives children an opportunity to excel and perform as an alternative to the violent, drug-infested streets of their communities. Ultimately, the project aims to produce South African and world acro-gymnastic champions and it demonstrated its commitment by winning the junior, senior and coach of the year titles in 2012 national championships. The gymnasts are coached by former Belarus champion, Natalia van Willigh who is assisted by Matome Tshishonga, a beneficiary of the project and a three-time South African acro-gymnastics champion.


Shumbashaba Horses Helping People
For more than ten years, Shumbashaba Horses Helping People has offered formerly disadvantaged people from the township of Diepsloot access to the therapeutic power of horses. Shumbashabas community outreach programmes offer therapeutic riding for people with severe disabilities and equine-assisted growth and learning to heal and empower hundreds of South African children who struggle with poverty, limited education and unemployment and face crime, violence and drug and alcohol abuse daily. Shumbashaba also sponsors the riding tuition of disadvantaged children, providing them with the opportunity to participate in equestrian competitions for riders with disabilities. The Shumbashaba coaches have represented South Africa in administrative and coaching roles and their expertise is passed on to staff who are empowered in the process.

Rowing for the Physically Disabled
Adaptive rowing is sweep-rowing or sculling for people with physical disabilities such as paraplegia, quadriplegia, visual impairment, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and spinal bifida. Rowing South Africa has introduced a national adaptive rowing programme in South African schools and universities to give young people with disabilities an opportunity to participate in the sport. The programme incorporates development, talent identification and high performance training and benefits significantly from the adaptive rowing expertise of international coach, Marco Galeone. Sandra Khumalo, who was paralysed in a car accident seven years ago, is an excellent role model for young participants, having represented South Africa in the 2012 London Paralympics.

Judo Institute for Special Needs
In 2009, the Judo Institute for Special Needs was initiated by Sondisa Magajana at the Khanyisa School for the Blind in Port Elizabeth to give 63 visually impaired children an opportunity to participate in sport. The programme then expanded to schools for deaf, physically impaired and intellectually impaired children, offering judo training five days a week and life skills training in career guidance, nutrition, animal outreach in partnership with the SPCA and awareness of the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. The institute has achieved good results, with participants winning medals in national Judo championships for the disabled and some even competing successfully in competitions for the able-bodied.

Jacky du Plessis
Jacky du Plessis

What a wonderful award ceremony on Thursday night and how inspiring it was to hear the stories of the finalists. The judges must have had a tough job selecting a winner for each award. Well done to all involved in producing a fine evening, but more importantly in focussing the eyes of South Africans on the many stories of triumph over hardship, and the amazing talent that exists despite hardship and poverty.