Local sports enthusiasts eager, as South African sports slowly returns

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Sports is an integral part of South African life. Whether it is soccer, rugby, fishing, golf, motorsport or even karate, South Africans yearn for their sports fix.

Since the implementation of the nationwide lockdown, South African sports has taken a backseat. However, the Minister of the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa has announced the staggered opening of certain sporting codes.

The Government Gazette published by Minister Mthethwa states that training and non-contact sports matches for professionals may resume in compliance with the health protocols, without any spectators.

While the gazetted regulations allow for the return of professional and elite sport, it does not for recreational sport.

Non-contact sports codes which are now allowed to resume matches include archery, badminton, golf, tennis, chess, bowls and squash.

Sporting codes which are only allowed to train include:

  • Basketball
  • Fencing
  • Motorsport
  • Football
  • Ice Hockey
  • Figure skating

With steps being taken to bring back sports, a number of golfers took to the greens at Newcastle Golf Club this past weekend.

This follows GolfRSA and the Golf bodies wish to thank the Minister, Director General and their team of staff for their commitment to helping Golf to begin exercise and training for members of a federation, agency, club or body.

Spunita Morgenrood of Newcastle Golf Club explains that it is a great moment for golfers, being able to make their way back onto the fairways.

“For a lot of guys, golf is a stress relief. There is also the fitness aspect and the camaraderie which we enjoy so much as well,” she emphasises.

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Gerhard van Heever, Quinton van der Hoogen, Spunita Morgenrood, Willie Bruin and Dick Lemmer.

In order to curb the possible spread of COVID-19 at the golf course, Spunita says a number of steps have been taken.

“Only one golfer is allowed per golf cart. We also wear our masks and sanitise regularly. We are also not allowed to touch each other’s golf balls or the flagsticks.”

Furthermore, GolfRSA has equipped all clubs with Risk Mitigation Strategies and training of Compliance Officers. In addition to this, GolfRSA has provided all facilities with a state-of-the-art Application that allows for the scanning and monitoring of all golfers and staff.

Zaakira Khan of Newcastle Oval Track says the club’s members are feeling hopeful about possibly training again.

“We are busy familiarizing ourselves with all the guidelines that are required for us to go ahead,” she explains.

Furthermore, she explains that club members have not started training. This is because the club is currently in discussions with its affiliation body World of Motorsport ZA (WOMZA). The discussions revolve around what is required from the club and how to prepare its members for practice sessions.

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While waiting to hear what is expected of them, Zaakira explains that it has been disheartening that they have been unable to train.

“We have encountered many break-ins during the lockdown and a lot of things have been stolen. Our club also relies on the race events to sustain and upkeep the track and its surroundings,” she says.

Sensei Frik Willemse of Butokukan Newcastle explains the COVID-19 pandemic has had both positive and negative effects on the dojo’s training. 

“As a dojo, we tried various mediums to stay in touch with our students and to encourage them to keep training on their own. We used WhatsApp videos and Zoom classes, but both methods had their drawbacks. One of the major drawbacks is that not all our students have internet access at home. This means that most could not attend Zoom classes or download the WhatsApp videos.”

Sensei Frik says another major drawback is the lack of personal interaction with students. “Any martial art, not just karate, need a lot of personal interaction to make corrections and facilitate a good understanding of techniques.”

As far as his own personal training is concerned, Sensei Frik says there were a few positive effects.

“Due to the lockdown regulations, I had to stay at home for just over 80 days. This allowed me a lot of time to train on my own and to learn many new things. I regularly attended Zoom classes with my karate sensei, sensei Carel van der Westhuizen who lives in Pretoria, as well as my iaido sensei, sensei Christos Perdi who lives in Mozambique. I also did a lot of reading and research to improve my overall understanding of karate, kobudo and iaido. Mental stimulation is as important as physical stimulation.”

However, overall, he says the lockdown has a negative effect on training.

“After all, karate is a fighting/self-defence art and even with the new lockdown regulations allowing for contact sport to resume with modified activities coming soon, we will not be allowed to do any contact training.”

From his point of view, sensei Frik says martial arts training in general should be allowed to continue.

“The three arts I personally study, namely karate, kobudo and iaido, all allow for safe, non-contact training methods. It is not the ideal way of training any martial arts, but it has some merit. For many people practicing martial arts is not just about fighting. Martial arts have many benefits. Stress relief is one of the major benefits for many adult martial arts practitioners. For children it is discipline. The health benefits are beneficial for all ages. During these troublesome times we all need an outlet for our frustrations, need good discipline in all aspects of our lives, and good health.”

While waiting for a date as to when they may resume training, sensei Frik emphasises that steps will be taken to safeguard students.

This includes sanitising and cleaning the dojo on a daily basis, as well as expanding the training area for better social distancing. Classes will also be done with smaller groups of students.

All classes, namely karate, kobudo and iaido, will consist of kata (forms) training only.

As South Africans eagerly wait for all sporting codes to resume, what sports are you missing the most? Also, what does sports mean to you?

Share your thoughts and views with us in the comment section below.


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