How ironic that my two previous columns have focussed on both the shenanigans and the successes in South African wheelchair basketball. Right on the heels of the “smell the roses” column comes a big, sad thump!
What a way to be brought down to earth! Rock bottom, to say the least. I am talking of the horrific motor accident in Colesburg that took the lives of four wheelchair basketball players from the Eastern Cape en route to compete in the Vodacom Wheelchair Basketball Challenge in Bloemfontein.
What really matters is the tragic loss of life amongst the Eastern Bears team members. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them and their families - Ayanda Ntembbiso (23), Simlindile Vuliwe (25), Dirk Brand (47) and Deonette Olivier (28). I sincerely hope that the injured are well on the road to recovery.
A further irony is that I had just started sponsorship negotiations on behalf of the Eastern Bears. I am delighted to welcome DHL International to the family of sponsors for 2008. The new-look team will be registered as the DHL Flyers in line with the DHL corporate strategy. I am sure this will prove to be a turning point for the team, and let us wish them well for the 2008 Super Series. May the sponsorship be good for both parties for many years to come.
Tribute must be paid to WBSA who made the call to continue with the competition under those sombre circumstances. This would surely have been what the players would have wanted. The Vodacom Challenge, followed a week later by the Vodacom Cup, are now the premier inter-provincial wheelchair basketball competitions played in South Africa.
In two pulsating finals, Central Gauteng claimed both trophies with a double victory over arch rivals Gauteng North. The Vodacom Cup game was televised live. On behalf of Sport for the Disabled, and in particular WBSA, our sincere gratitude goes to SuperSport for their extensive coverage and sponsorship of wheelchair basketball. The contract has been extended to 2010, and next year promises to be the most exciting ever. The WBSA Super Series is the only televised wheelchair basketball competition in the world, and we remain the envy of the IWBF and all its member countries!
I was invited to speak at the two-day SASOL annual staff gathering. A special slot showcased the SASOL sponsorship of the national WBSA team. Five players from the National Squad played and delivered an on-stage demonstration which was well received by the enthusiastic audience. This is how a partnership should work!
SASOL are very proud sponsors, and the basketball profile is associated with their sponsorship bouquet, which is very much in the limelight. This is due to the fabulous performance of Jake White’s Springbok Rugby Team currently playing in the 2008 Rugby World Cup in France. Contrary to my predictions (and happily so), New Zealand will not even contest (never mind win) the final. “Go Bokke!” The latest fixture I heard added to the RWC programme was that New Zealand were due to meet Australia – at Charles De Gaulle Airport!
Out there, doing it
Congratulations to Krige Schabort for his (oh so close) 2nd place in the Chicago Marathon. One second separated him from eventual winner Kurt Fearnley from Australia (damn it!). Ernst van Dyk has also been out there, doing it, winning the wheelchair division of the 21km Great North Run in Newcastle, UK.
I attended the announcement of the golfers who will contest the 2007 Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City in November. It really is heartening to see that this tournament remains a priority on many of the top golfers’ “to-do” list. Attracting eleven of the world’s top ranked players is no mean feat – congratulations to all involved. Nice to see South African Rory Sabbatini in the field alongside fellow South Africans and former winners Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and the winner of the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit, Charl Schwartzel. No sitting on the fence! My tip to win it is my namesake, Adam Scott. (So be it that he is Australian!)
For years the Nedbank Golf Challenge has signalled the end of another tough year, and this year will be no different. I’ll be off to Mauritius with my family (and my flesh-coloured Speedo) for a well-earned break (at least I think it’s well earned!).
NB: A relief fund has been established and those wishing to contribute can contact WBSA (011 616 7576) for details. Bank details are WBSA, Nedbank, Bedfordview, Account no: 1925079112. Please use reference “accident fund”.