Top athletes at Indigenous Games
But state still complains of a lack of interest from the youth
From stick fighting to running, to morabaraba and skipping ropes, 580 Eastern Cape athletes went head-to-head in the 13th annual Provincial Indigenous Games at Police Park in East London at the weekend.
The athletes, some of them young children, battled it out over three days for an opportunity to represent the Eastern Cape at the National Indigenous Games in Polokwane, Limpopo in September.
The competition, which organisers are hoping will kill two birds with one stone – revive indigenous games and keep the youth off the streets and actively involved in sport as a way of fighting social ills – started on Friday and ended on Sunday.
At the time of writing on Sunday, the team that will represent the Eastern Cape in Limpopo had not yet been announced.
The games are an initiative by the provincial department of sport, recreation, arts & Culture.
The participants, chosen from Alfred Nzo, Buffalo City Metro, Sarah Baartman, Amathole, Chris Hani, Joe Gqabi, O R Tambo, and Nelson Mandela Metro – participated in disciplines like iintonga, dibeke, morabaraba, jukskei, ncuva, kgati, kho-kho and drie stokkies.
Last year the Eastern Cape came fifth at the nationals.
There are many indigenous sporting codes, but we decided on these ones and our aim is to preserve our heritage through these games because these games are slowly being forgotten and it's only the normal sporting codes like soccer that are flourishing.Mboniso Feju
But the department's provincial coordinator of the Indigenous Games, Mboniso Feju said only the cream of the crop participated at this year’s games, saying because of that, the province would improve from last year’s position.
He said the sporting codes that were on display over the weekend were agreed upon at national level and they were very impressed with how prepared the athletes were.
“There are many indigenous sporting codes, but we decided on these ones and our aim is to preserve our heritage through these games because these games are slowly being forgotten and it's only the normal sporting codes like soccer that are flourishing,” he said.
Feju said the department was also trying to provide an escape for the youth through these games as they were currently facing a number of social ills.
“If the young ones play sports they are always busy and sports also grooms them with respect, but it's not always easy to attract players to these games.
“Unlike in soccer for example where you can just buy a pair of boots and go to a team, we are constantly begging the youth to join us , bearing in mind that we have both male and female players in all the teams.”
He said after seeing the talent from the all the districts they were hoping to finish in the top three and they were in a process to improve their performance at national level.
“As a department we have a huge task of training our people so that we are in a position to finish better in the future.
“So this year we are went around all the districts training people in these games.”
Event organiser from Inam Qwabe Trading, Dumisani Mpofu said there were challenges they had to overcome in order to properly service the athletes and officials present.
“We were working round the clock because we had to cover a lot of things in a short space of time.
“And we had to make that sure that the venue was athletefriendly – like getting ambulances in place. And we also wanted to do justice to the people we were servicing during there days,” Mpofu said.
He sincerely thanked the department for trusting them with the event.