A chance not to be missed

WHAT an amazing thing it would be if Port Alfred became a host venue for the World Beach Games, the potential of which was hinted at by the president of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) Gideon Sam, when he came to watch the Royal St Andrews Easter Festival last weekend.

Sam said it was a small beginning for the festival organisers, Zwelinzima Nkwinti and Dave Lawson, but that it could grow.

He said a beach multi-sport event required just 10 sports for international consideration, and there were plenty to choose from.

With open water swimming, surfing, bodyboarding and rubber duck racing taking place last weekend, the festival is almost halfway there.

Among the other beach sports available are beach volleyball – which Nkwinti and Lawson tried to arrange but had some hurdles with, beach soccer, beach rugby, beach basketball, beach tennis, beach handball, beach wrestling, sandboarding, surf kayaking, surfboat rowing and kitesurfing.

The potential to include and develop these sports is there, especially as some already take place in our area – like kitesurfing, which been hosted for several years at Cannon Rocks.

Some of the sports require more equipment and expense than others, which tend to exclude disadvantaged athletes unless they secure sponsorship. But many of the sports require small expenditure, and rather skill, passion and commitment to the game.

Mkuleli Magada of the EC Sports Confederation was correct that these kinds of sports should be encouraged and developed in schools in Ndlamabe – we already have the beach and the ocean on our doorstep.

We should pay attention to how Brazil has developed and excelled in beach sports.

What a motivation it would be to realise we could host an international event that could boost tourism and local economic development as well as social development, channelling youth in a healthy direction and away from crime, drugs and poor life choices.

As Magada said, sport can help with moral regeneration.

“Sport doesn’t understand colour and language, so we can fill stadiums to the rafters with people who come together,” he said.

We hope there is a local response to this call, and the athletes of the future can be developed in the opportunities that already exist, in swimming, rowing, surfing and bodyboarding, as well as growing into other realms of possibility in that vast array of beach sports.

The World Beach Games is still in its infancy – the inaugural event which was to be held later this year has been postponed to 2019 – so we would be getting on board at the right time.

– Jon Houzet

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