The results speak for themselves - UWC athletes have enjoyed one of the most successful years in 2015, and were deservedly honoured at this year’s annual Sport Awards ceremony which was hosted with much glamour and glitz on 14 October.
And, judging by the intensity in the room at the capacity-full Great Hall before the announcement of the winners in each category was made, selectors had headaches in making the final decisions as most nominees deserved the accolades. In the end, the South African welterweight boxing champion Sinethemba Blom was named Sportsman of the Year, and rising Banyana Banyana striker Thembi Kgatlana received the Sportswoman of the Year award.
It was the University’s Football Club who were the big winners of the evening, taking home both the Top team of the Year and Top Club of the Year awards, and the men’s team coach Salie Adams was chosen as the Top Coach of the Year. The Sport Council Award also went to Banyana Banyana star Leandra Smeda.
At the event, Thulile Hlongwane was recognised with the Student Sport Administrator of the Year accolade while Special Recognition Awards went to the Sports Skills for Life Skills initiative of the UWC Cricket Club, dance coach Cheslin Paris and Marlene Wagner of netball.
It was not only on the field of play or on the dance floor that the athletes excelled, as Sharn Gomes, Kyla Richard and Zoe Woodman were honoured as Academic Achievers of the Year. The contribution of the University to the provincial and national sport structures was also noted, with nine athletes honoured with full colours (for representing national teams) and 56 with half colours after they were selected to provincial teams in different sporting codes.
Delivering a keynote address, Advocate Lyndon Bouah, Chief Director of Sport and Recreation in the Western Cape, noted that the provincial government has many relationships with the University. These include the Robben Island Digitization Project and the Case of Sport research which showed that sport contributed 2% of the Western Cape’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the last two years. “Two percent of the GDP, ladies and gentlemen, translates to R8,8 billion of what the sport industry brings to the Western Cape,” he said to huge applause.
“The successes through sport that have been mentioned tonight are the things that will spur the economy and will be a catalyst for growth at UWC. Because of the research this university did the sport federations were able to, in addition to the normal R8 million that they receive, get an additional R9 million from the treasurer because of the research that was done at UWC.”
Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Student Development and Support, Professor Mokgadi Moletsane, congratulated the recipients and said the event proves that UWC prides itself with excellence. “UWC is fast becoming a force to be reckoned with. We have seen more athletes at senior national and international competitions.”
Moletsane said the success of University sport in the last five to eight years is indicative of a considerable potential to impact on South African development, and that there is a symbiotic relationship between sport and development. “For example, many sports people are able to study because of their involvement in sport. That is why the transformation process in sport is so linked to the national development and creating equity in our society.”
2015 UWC SPORT AWARDS RECAP
Sportsman of the Year: Sinethemba Blom (boxing)
Sportswoman of the Year: Thembi Kgatlana (football)
Coach of the Year: Salie Adams (football)
Student Administrator of the Year: Thulile Hlongwane
Club of the Year: UWC Football
Team of the Year: UWC Men's Football
Sport Council Award: Leandra Smeda (football)
Academic Achiever Awards: Sharn Gomes, Kyla Richard, Zoe Woodman
Special Recognition Awards: Sports Skills for Life Skills/UWC Cricket, Cheslin Paris (dance sport), Marlene Wagner (netball)