Newcastle born Bakkies Botha visits the Winter Games in town

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Arbor Park Sports Grounds was a hive of activity as scores of children braced themselves for an action pack day. Saturday, June 8, marked a special occasion. It was the annual Winter Games hosted by Arbor Park Primary.

A day which focuses on sportsmanship, team spirit and fun, while emphasising the importance sports play in our daily lives.

With learners from eight schools participating in a series of netball, hockey, chess and rugby matches during the day, the Winter Games is an event to remember.

“The Winter Games is not just about winning the matches. When we look at teams, there are a set of certain criteria which they must meet,” says Raymond van Niekerk of Arbor Park Primary School.

These criteria include manners, team spirit and sportsmanship.

“The Winter Games is about letting sport win,” Raymond emphasises.

Marking the importance of the day, rugby star, Bakkies Botha was a VIP judge. His presence a true highlight of the event. What many don’t know, is that Bakkies Botha is a former Newcastillian and a former Arbor Park Primary School learner.

Nardini Convent School in its match against Huttenpark Primary School.

“It is amazing to see how people haven’t changed and are still as friendly as they were when I left town. The set-up of the Winter Games is also truly amazing, as it gives you the opportunity to see life through a child as they participate in the sporting events,” says Bakkies.

From the camaraderie to spirit, Bakkies says events such as the Winter Games are important as it unites the community.

“Sport changed my life and seeing the talent on the sports field was remarkable. A lot of the children have a bright future ahead of them and have the potential to go further in their sports career. Sports is also necessary for a child’s life as it leads to an active and healthy lifestyle when they grow older.”

While admiring the local talent, Bakkies says he also took the opportunity to visit his old classroom. “I must say, the desks are a lot smaller now,” he laughs.

But walking down the school hallways, visiting his old classroom brought back a lot of good memories. “I remember walking to school and the freedom of childhood.”

The principal of Arbor Park Primary, Pamela de Jager states the day was a resounding success. “The children really enjoyed the event and at the end of the day, it is for them.”

She explains the Winter Games was an annual event which took place years ago and eventually came to an end.

“People approached us and requested we start it again, which we did. When it comes to the Winter Games, we like to get an individual like Bakkies Botha involved, as children then have a role model to look up to. Bakkies, for example, comes from humble beginnings and look where he is now.”

A player from Arbor Park Primary runs with the ball, with a player from Huttenpark Primary in hot pursuit.
Pamela thanks all the coaches, sponsors, parents and teachers who made the day special and for allowing children to experience the joy sports has to offer.

Following the sporting matches at Arbor Park Sports Grounds, the event moved to Blackrock Casino. Here, guests had the opportunity to watch a series of rugby matches, socialise and interact with Bakkies Botha.

The event was truly a resounding success, with children and coaches eagerly looking forward to next year’s Winter Games.

Players from St Dominics Newcastle and Amajuba School setting their sights on the ball.
Arbor Park Primary and Busy Bee battling it out on the netball field.
Charles and Kay Matthee.
Tobie van Schalkwyk with Nico and Juanita Botha.
Willie Pretorius and Charles Kirton.
Marné and Anthony Stokes and Conrad Stoel.
Tanya van Nieker and Marcel van Niekerk.
Raymond van Niekerk and Marcel Swartz with rugby legend, Bakkies Botha.
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