MEC Pinky Phosa on announcement of funding for local athlete to compete in the Comrades marathon

26 March 2011

A nation that does not play is a nation that transgresses the message that the health practitioners preach to us every day – exercise. Sport is a critical part of development in our society.

The FIFA 2010 World Cup South Africa ™ affirmed the role of sport as a critical catalyst for social cohesion in the country. The festivities that accompanied this occasion confirmed the view that there is nothing as unifying as sports in the world.

I believe that Mpumalanga is endowed with skills and talent that can make the world pause and take notice. In fact, the sport stars can be the magnets that attract many world visitors to come and experience the serenity and breathtaking scenery of destination Mpumalanga.

Many talented women and men from this province have gone to make their mark in different sporting codes by displaying their God-given talents and artistic skills to the delight of many South Africans and the World.

All athletes, established and up-and-coming starts, require all of us to support them in order to pursue their God given talents and to put the province firmly in the sporting map.

The biggest challenge that all athletes face is the lack of sponsorships to enable them to compete freely at the national and world stages. We are told that endorsement and financial support for the athletes makes up the smallest portion of the entire corporate sponsorship budget. Sadly, this smallest percentage of funding /sponsorships available for the athletes still favours very few in the country.

For those that still struggle to get sponsorships, a desire to have decent running shoes, clothes and equipment as well as money to cover travelling and accommodation costs to enable them to compete in major competitions, remains the biggest obstacle to their dreams.

I am however satisfied that there are hundreds of people across economic classes who continue to support deserving athletes to compete in different sporting codes.

I had the pleasure of receiving information about one of our athlete from Piet Retief who has achieved some impressive records in the Comrades, Cosmos three-in-one and Loskop ultra marathons among others.

I was informed that the athlete needed support in order to mount a campaign in three of the top national and provincial marathons in 2011.

We took the opportunity to respond to his request as a member of the community to assist him to compete in the Comrades marathons this Sunday.

We would like to thank Mr Hleza for giving me this opportunity to make my little contribution and help him to mount a challenge in the Comrades.

We are pleased to join corporate SA and many individuals who continue this rich culture of giving that South Africans are known of. Mr Hleza has our blessing and we wish him all of the best on Sunday.

For more information, contact:

Letshela Jonas on 013 766 4243 / 079 5000 154 or Joseph Mkhonto on (013) 766 4162 / 082 627 1750
Issued by Communications, Department of Finance, Mpumalanga Provincial Government