President's Voice – Gideon Sam | SASCOC - SASCOC

President’s Voice – Gideon Sam

Cities around the world take sport tourism very serious because they understand the economic spin-offs to be had by hosting mega events in their cities.
There is even a Cities Forum where these cities meet annually to share strategies of how to approach International Federations to stage events in their cities.
It’s big business and when you hear that Zolani Tete, a reigning boxing world champion, cannot defend in his own backyard, Buffalo City, because there are no takers in the city, then you do get worried.
This is a clear illustration that sport and business and tourism need to work closer together to capture these events to boost the economy of the city or province.
To get the ball rolling, SASCOC has decided to set up a Cities Forum to help cities get closer to the International Federations to understand the requirements for hosting mega sports events in the various cities of South Africa. We already have these big events that attract athletes from across the world and our view is that these events must be part and remain part of the bigger picture for sport tourism.
The Cape Epic attracts cyclists from all over the world as does the Comrades Marathon. These are huge events and we have seen over the years how they impact on sport as well as the hosting city’s economy. The sports movement benefits a great deal if these events are staged in our country because more of our own athletes get the chance to participate in events close by.
Budapest in Hungary recently hosted the International Judo Grand Prix to the benefit of their own athletes who not only got to participate in huge numbers but also get the opportunity to pit their strength against the best in the world.
They also got the opportunity to score points towards qualifying for the Rio Olympics. There are benefits for us all in encouraging our cities to take a closer look at hosting world events.
We hope to invite cities in South Africa to a Consultative  Conference in August to start talking about how our cities can help the sports movement by hosting sporting events on home soil. The idea is then to expand the Forum to include cities in our Southern African Region and later the continent.
Asia is doing it, Europe is doing it and Africa can also do it.
Meanwhile we continue to see some great allround great performances from our athletes. Wayde van Niekerk is improving by the day on the athletics track and Chad le Clos continues to impress the swimming world wherever he goes.
Our sprinting is really starting to look up and I see a ‘new’ name on the scene in the shape of Henricho Bruintjies. Look at him together with Anaso Jobodwana, Ncincilili Titi and Akani Simbini and one can foresee a formidable relay team taking shape in the next year or so.
Good to see our para-athletes continuing their form in Italy with three-time Paralympian Ilse Hayes showing no sign of slowing down! A world record in Brazil was followed up with double gold in Grosseto, Italy. Her excellence is the perfect motivator to all our Paralympians ahead of Rio 2016.
In team sports our hockey girls did exceptionally well to hold Germany to a scoreless draw at the World League Semi Final in Spain and our netballers downed Africa’s No1 side Malawi at the Diamond Challenge this week. Well done, guys and girls – keep up the good work!