Border Icons in Sport honours legends


Border Icons in Sport hosted its inaugural gala dinner and awards ceremony on October 29 at the Summit Lifestyle centre to honour sporting heroes past and present.

The event paid homage to the legacies of athletes in the Border region who were dedicated to their sports despite the harsh restrictions of apartheid sporting sanctions which prohibited people of colour from playing at the national level.

Icons honoured included those who had passed away, among them hockey sensation Valda du Plessis, aquatics pioneer John van der Walt and boxing prodigy Leighandre Jegels.

Guest speaker businessman John O’Connor is passionate about capacitating sport administratively in the Border region and hopes Border Icons in Sport will be able to create a network between past and present athletes to strengthen admin across the sporting codes.

“The federations are being tasked with training administration staff in your different codes and this is not how it should be,” he said.

“Federations have too many other responsibilities and this means important initiatives like training officials and coaches are neglected and we are seeing the effects of this at the Border level.

“We need to have qualifications run through clubs or organisations outside the federations if we want to develop enough admin staff to keep the different codes functioning.”

Jacob Klaasen, the father of South African tennis player Raven Klaasen, was awarded for his contribution to tennis at the local and national levels on the night.

“Tonight is important because players like us from those years do not get the recognition we deserve,” he said. “We need to get the passion for the sport back here in the Border region because we have lost that in recent years.

“We used to have a vibrant sports association here in all the sporting codes from soccer to tennis, but with changes in leadership in the sport we have lost that momentum.”

Bevan Christoffels accepted an award on behalf of his late father, Border cricket player Ali June Christoffels. Bevan’s son Kirwin played for the SA national team as far as U19 and now plays for a club abroad. Bevan said the award meant a great deal to his family as it cements their place in history as contributors to national and Border cricket.

Chair of Roses United Rugby Club Denzil Domoney said Border rugby was greatly affected by players being recruited to move to schools and universities outside the region and that sporting organisations need to lobby DSRAC to develop more incentives to retain local players.

Lillian Lawrence, a former Border swimmer, was awarded for her contribution to the sporting code and confirmed that before the year ended, the local swimming club Piranhas would be re-established at the Ruth Belonsky pool.


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