The prestigious Transnet Rural and Farm Schools Sports Tournament, which was held from 1-3 October 2012 at the Boksburg Stadium in Gauteng, was once again a huge success. This annual sporting event began with over 22 000 learners across South Africa only to be whittled down to a mere 2 000 entrants who were competing in this year's national tournament.
While South Africa is rich in sporting talent, much of its potential talent sits undiscovered and remains to be identified, nurtured and developed into the heroes of tomorrow. Transnet has made an effort to turn this around using the tournament as a starting ground for many of these youths.
Isolated areas are targeted
With this in mind, the Transnet Foundation felt obliged to go the extra mile and use their expertise and resources for the social benefit of all South Africans. They used money from their budget to launch this programme in 2002, specifically targeting the more rural and isolated areas, by providing these youths with opportunities and the chance to be all they can be.
To help learners and their caregivers focus on competing and enjoying their time, the Transnet Foundation has provided transportation and accommodation for all the participants - 20 schools per province in all nine provinces - for the duration of the event.
The festivities kicked off on Monday, 1 October 2012 with the opening ceremony and entertainment, and finished with a spectacular fireworks display. Tournaments for netball, football, athletics and chess followed for the next two days. These games were played by girls and boys between the ages of 13 and 19, all of them coached by trained staff.
Improvement in concentration
Bakamela Rai, a mathematics teacher from QwaQwa, has been involved with the tournament since it started, having been trained as a coach. Bakamela says that the children have themselves noticed an improvement in their focusing abilities, they are able to concentrate better and have improved reasoning capacity - these are benefits from playing chess.
Annually, Transnet spends between R140 million and R160 million directly through the Foundation and the other R20 million through other divisions. The Transnet Foundation has six portfolios - education, health, employee volunteerism, container assistance, special projects and sport. The sport portfolio receives the second largest budget, which is then split between the Transnet School of Excellence and the Transnet Rural and Farms Schools Tournament.
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