Dear Santa, please for Christmas could you bring me a slower year for 2006

Dear Santa, please for Christmas could you bring me a slower year for 2006, this one was just simply to fast!

During mid October I was in a shop in Kempton Park and they were playing carols with the Christmas lights flashing! Being in Kempton Park, I wondered whether it was a hang-on from 2004 or whether they genuinely ahead of the 2005 bash! There were no Easter eggs on special so assume it was the latter!

I recently attended the conference for people with disabilities and I must ask the organisers a few questions, the most important being: How can a venue that really doesn’t lend itself to the disabled (I have seen worse) be used to stage such an important event? For starters, Kyalami Conference Centre has no toilets for the disabled and the make shift ones that were installed on late inspection were just not acceptable. Admittedly, I did not spend too much time in the sessions though I was asked to close the Thursday afternoon slot.

The Conference was running late, the facilitator was impatient and frankly, many of the panel seemed to be out of their depth opting to defend their respective departments as opposed to engage on ways to make the world a better place. In terms of a disability conference, whilst I am appreciative of the magnitude of the HIV / AIDS pandemic, it seems to me that this topic raises enough attention at specific conferences and that to much time was wasted discussing HIV / AIDS at this conference which perhaps should have tackled specific issues head on!

“Where are the real big guns from the stakeholders such as National Government”? Someone dared ask. “Oh we tried to get them but most are oversees” came the reply from one of the panel. It’s Christmas in 6 weeks honey, shopping needs to be done, a disability conference for the disabled in South Africa is after all hardly a priority! A good effort by all, but left many lessons to be learnt for the future.

On a brighter note, I attended the launch of the Supersport Initiative with Department of Sport and Recreation to get the nation “To Play”. The drive is to get South Africans with a focus on children “To Play” as opposed to dabbling in the other temptations that life’s curved ball throws.

Hard-hitting statistics were presented by the sponsors on the high levels of cigarette smoking, drugs and alcohol abuse amongst the youth. The fact that such low percentages of kids have access to sport facilities was worrying, and even those who do hardly use them! Obesity remains a major threat (as it does in many other westernised Countries). The irony of the “lets play” programme is the major sponsors (Supersport) derive there profit from attracting bums on seats to watch their magnificent sports bouquet yet there they were telling people to get out and play, get healthy and lead a better quality of life! Hats off to you guys, a very genuine effort to help solve a huge problem in Africa.

I visited the finish of the Old Mutual Soweto Marathon on Saturday 5 November,a well organised set of runs that included a 5km, 10km, 21km and 42km. The vibe in this township is special, a truly South African event that can only get bigger and better. Congratulations to Tsotang Meane and Mamoroallo Tjoka who won the men’s and women’s categories respectively. Unfortunately, later in the day, Hendrik Ramaala was just pipped to the post by World champion Paul Tergat in the New York Marathon. Ramaala’s strong performance shows that South African road running is seemingly in good shape and with a brand new City Marathon and Short Course Series (starting 2006) announced by Nedbank, things can only get better. The series will also focus on disabled athletes so after another astounding race win in New York, Ernst Van Dyk can start budgeting for the future!

I’m looking forward to the Afro Arab Vodacom International Wheelchair Basketball Gold Cup Qualifiers to be held at the Vodacom Mandeville Indoor Centre from 20th – 26th November. It should be a great measure of the progress that our players have made. Certainly the progress of our administrators is limited, having bungled the preparation for the announced preparation tour to Italy has left our players wondering as to how serious we are about our sport after all. Time to lift you spirits boys, you can do this!

Well as I said, the year has flown by and I must now pack my bags and prepare for my annual pilgrimage to Sun City for the Nedbank Golf Challenge. Have been doing a little stint in the sponsorships area with so having cracked a guest invitation for the last 10 years, I now find myself on the working register! Well Joel Stransky, Kevin Mcullam, Hugh Page and Trevor Quirk, that means I may not be able to visit the hospitality tents with you this time around, but pop in though to Nedbank and we can catch up over a cold one!

Merry Christmas to you all!

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