The future of athletics

Amos Khoza, Christopher Thompson and Nkosana Mpinga.

WHITE RIVER – In support of its new status, Rob unveiled plans to uproot its athletics track and replace it with an international-standard blue tartan.

At the end of last year, Rob and four other schools in Mpumalanga were declared SFS by the National Department of Culture, Sport and Recreation (DCSR).

A talent-identification programme will target 14 and 15 year olds. They will have the option (and means) to attend school and receive coaching at Rob, Lowveld High, Hoërskool Lydenburg, and Ligbron and Generaal Hertzog on the Highveld.

Each school will focus on different disciplines.

The age limit of 15 allows the child at least another three years in school to be optimally developed.

The announcement was made after a rigorous selection process. The SFS were identified based on their existing sport and accommodation facilities, and sporting codes within the priority codes.

SFS will provide opportunities for pupils to develop skills to benefit their performance in one or more sport codes, and to pursue careers in a sport or physical education.

Last year Rob Ferreira submitted proposals to potentail national and international sponsors for a tartan track.

The school is still awaiting approval. Principal, Mr Dawie Oberholzer, said they requested quotations from a number of experts for the track, which will cost an estimated R15 million. “We want to improve the standard of athletics, not only in the province, but nationally. Our main goal is to have at least 20 athletes at the South African Schools Championships in 2019.”

Principal of Hoërskool Rob Ferreira, Mr Dawie Oberholzer.

LowMed, which implemented the Gijima Talent Identification Programme in 2015, is also on board, providing the sport scientists, testing equipment and mobile testing units to Rob’s programme.

With LowMed’s assistance, athletes in certain rural areas of Mpumalanga are already preparing for the 2024 Olympic Games.

Mr Harry Wiltshire of LowMed explained that they visited these areas for talent identification.

Rob’s Amos Khoza was one of three athletes who was identified.

Also read: Marais, Banda en Khoza goud werk

Within a few months he was crowned the South African Schools’ u/15, 800-metre champion. He is originally from the Nkomazi region.


“Athletes are tested according to physical traits such as balance, coordination, speed, aerobic fitness, strength, explosive power, flexibility and agility, that are essential for future success,” Wiltshire said.

“The pupils who test above average are identified and enrolled into a talent-development programme, to ensure that they can be optimally developed to maximise the chances on success in sport later in life. In May we will visit a town in the Gert Sibande district, Daggakraal.”

Dr Kobus Hugo, also of LowMed, said children growing up in rural areas possessed a lot of sporting abilities, but lacked facilities and formal sport-specific training.

“The majority of the children are not part of the computer generation, notorious for lying in front of the television or playing video games. These kids are actively developing their skills and bodies by performing household chores involving manual work and by playing games outside. As a result, they are generally very muscular with a low fat percentage which is ideal for sport,” he said.

Spokesman for the provincial DCSR, Ms Sibongile Nkosi, explained that the minister established the Ministerial School Sport Bursary Programme to attract able and committed athletes, providing them with full-time bursaries and provincial support to enable them to excel in their sport and academics.

Oberholzer also dreams of a world-class high- performance unit.

“It will entail permanent dieticians, biokineticists, physiotherapists, medical doctors and coaches. The plans are already drawn up, but to finance a project like this will always be a problem,” he said.

In the meantime, Rob wants to upgrade the long-jump and high-jump runways to tartan in preparation for next year’s interhigh athletics meet.

Carli Koch
Sports Editor

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