The pesky SG is back, after a brief viral hiatus.
Despite the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, our sport is almost back to normal.
Due to a significant amount of backroom toil, especially from the she boss and her sidekick (who I am married to) we were one of the first federations “allowed back”.
Unlike most other federations, we have even managed to sneak in almost all of our most important national championships. The St. Francis weekend allowed us the opportunity to tick off the SA marathon champs and the SA S1 champs. The SA S2 champs being decided at the King of the Bay the month before, and the SA river champs (both K1 and K2) being held on the Orange river over the same weekend earlier this month.
During the initial phase of the “opening of competition” there was an understandable reluctance by some of the race organisers to delve into the paperwork mire that is required, and the odd white flag was raised.
Much credit for leading the way back to holding races must go to our hairy, “never say die” stalwart of all things canoeing, who took the bull by the horns and proved that, with a degree of doggedness and inventiveness, the mire could be crossed with less difficulty than was initially suspected. His modus operandi was willingly passed on to all who asked, resulting in a number of “cancelled” events becoming “uncancelled”, and a few race organisers quietly kicking themselves for reaching for the flag prematurely.
We need to appreciate that it is not the administrators (least of all the SG) who are the backbone of our organisation, it is the race organisers. They are a rare, unselfish breed and need to be cherished and respected.
The results of the races we have managed to host thus far have produced a mixed bag of “age and experience” vrs “youth and confidence”. Hank proving that at 42 years old he still has the ability to beat anyone who is willing to race him. His list of national titles growing bigger each year. The new boy on the block, Hamish Lovemore, did, however, manage to snatch a couple of important golds from the old gun. Together with the likes of Uli Hart, Hamish has heralded the start of a new era and the inevitable changing of the guard.
The past few months has also seen a massive upheaval in national sports administration where there has been a changing of the guard of a different nature. The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee, otherwise known as SASCOC, is the body responsible for high performance sport in the country. Over the past few years, the organisation has lost sight of its mandate, has become factionalised and dysfunctional, and has failed to provide the needed support to our athletes.
Government intervention resulted in a call for early election for a new board. This was meant to have taken place in March. Due to the Covid pandemic, however, the process was postponed indefinitely. After a number of resignations, what remained of the board was a very compromised group whose main focus appeared to be manipulating the landscape to ensure their re-election. Led by Canoeing South Africa, a number of federations spearheaded an attempt to hasten the election process. The board was eventually forced to capitulate when the IOC stepped in and appointed a facilitator in the form of Dr. Sam Ramsamy.
The elections were finally held on the 7th of this month and an almost entirely new board has been voted in. Our president, Kim Pople, being one of the members.
The new board now faces the difficult task of rescuing the tattered image of the organisation and returning it to the athlete focussed entity that it should be. It is going to be a long road.
Tribute must be paid to Merrill King who spent the last 8 years serving on the board of SASCOC under hugely frustrating conditions.
From a CSA admin perspective, we have finally changed over to the Dotcloud system for all events. Some administrators and race organisers have been dragged there kicking and screaming, others have realised the benefits from the start. All paddling events that are reflected on the CSA calendar will now be run through the system. There are still a few isolated teething issues. These have been addressed by a comprehensive FAQ section on the front page of the CSA website. Once again, I implore you to familiarise yourself with the system and to be positive.
On a sad note, one of Western Capes paddling legends, Edgar Boehm, passed away earlier this week after a short illness. Edgar had the honour of having completed the most number of consecutive Berg River Canoe Marathons, an impressive 45. His smiling face will be missed between Paarl and Veldrift.
2020 has been a year that has forced us to introspect and reflect. For most, it has not been easy. For some it has forced positive change that might not have come about if the status quo had remained.
I have attached the CSA presidents annual report which will give you a brief overview of what has transpired over this annus horribilis.
Very few have the slightest idea of the contribution that this amazing woman has made to our sport over the past few years. We are hugely fortunate to have her at our helm and now, as a SASCOC board member.
Until next week.
And the joke.
Now that they are retired, my mother and father were discussing all aspects of their future.
“What will you do if I die before you do?” Dad asked Mom.
After some thought, Mom replied : “I`d probably look for a house-sharing situation with three other single or widowed women who might be a little younger than myself, since I`m still very active for my age“.
Then Mom asked Dad, “What will you do if I die first ?”
He replied; “Probably the same thing.”