Joburg hosts hockey greats

Pretoria - Brand South Africa is currently hosting the Hockey World League Semi Finals 2017.

Brand South Africa Chief Executive Officer Dr Kingsley Makhubela said sport plays an important role in nation building.

“We can all attest to the fact that nation building through sport, in a multi-racial society such as South Africa is a key component that remains a constant - because sports breaks down barriers and is a common factor among all, no matter what race, creed or religion,” Makhubela said on Tuesday.

This as the semi-finals which Brand South Africa and the South African Hockey Association (SAHA) are hosting got underway at the WITS Hockey Stadium in Johannesburg on Saturday.

South Africa was selected by the Federation of International Hockey (FIH) to host both the men’s and women’s legs of the Hockey World League Semi-Finals, accommodating ten of the world’s best men’s team and best female teams.

Makhubela said sport plays an important role in promoting wellness and social cohesion.

Brand South Africa said the country’s nation-building projects – such as sports and recreation initiatives, were and still continue to be premised on the formulation of a common identity.

“This is captured in the National Sport and Recreation Plan (NSRP) – which states that when building an active nation, it is clear that no country can expect to achieve and sustain success at the elite level without a strong participation base in the community, because that is where every champion has their beginning,” said Makhubela.

Chief Executive Officer of SAHA Marissa Langeni said hosting the Hockey World League is part of a strategy to inspire young players.

“Hosting this Hockey World League 2017 event is a major part of our #SAHockeyRevolution strategy which is aimed at delivering world class hockey to the South African public and inspiring young players by giving them access to the very best players in the world. 

“In addition, we are developing a high performance programme that will allow our elite men’s and women’s teams the opportunity to prepare and compete on the biggest stages the sport has to offer,” said Langeni.

Agreeing with this, Makhubela said meaningful investments is required from an early age so as to enhance effective participation in sport.

“International best practices undeniably demonstrates that successful sporting nations do not just derive their success from the air. Meaningful investments are required from early age for enhanced effective participation in sport, which is why we as Brand South Africa saw this as a unique opportunity for nation building. However, it is evident that this quest can only be achieved if there is commitment by both the public and private sector,” he said.

The semi-finals will conclude on 23 July 2017.

South Africa has previously successfully hosted a number of key international sporting events, such as the Rugby World Cup in 1995, the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in 1996, the 2003 Cricket World Cup and the FIFA World Cup in 2010, the 2013 Afcon and the 2014 African Nations Championships (CHAN) tournaments.  – SAnews.gov.za