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Glittering Gala Dinner gets SETE 2012 underway

Wednesday night's (12 September) glittering SETE 2012 Gala Dinner got this year's Sports and Events Tourism Exchange (SETE) exhibition (12-14 September) and conference (12-13 September) underway in fine style, with multiple-SAMA winner Lira entertaining a star-studded crowd that included Olympic gold and silver medallist Chad le Clos, Olympic bronze medallist Bridgitte Hartley, Banyana Banyana captain Amanda Dlamini, Miss SA Melinda Bam, as well as a host of other sports celebrities. As well as kicking off the 2nd annual SETE event, the Gala Dinner was also chosen by SASCOC (South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee) to celebrate the inspirational performances of the South African Olympic Team at London 2012.

Olympic gold and silver medallist Chad Le Clos and KZN MEC for Economic Development & Tourism Michael Mabuyakhulu at the SETE Gala Dinner
Billed as a night of glitz and glamour, the SETE Gala Dinner did not disappoint, giving Durban and KwaZulu Natal sport fanatics a once in a lifetime opportunity to celebrate South Africa's most successful Olympic campaign since readmission. The star-studded event took place at the ICC Durban, and was hosted by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development and Tourism (KZN DEDT), EThekwini Municipality and Durban Tourism. An evening dedicated to promoting South African culture, local, national and international businesses, sports fanatics, sponsors and supporters all had the chance to rub shoulders and share in the athletes' experiences in London.

One component of the evening that generated much interest was the auction of sports memorabilia which included a signed Mike Tyson Glove, Chad Le Clos swimming trunks, Rene Kalmer Bag, T-shirt and Olympic number, a signed Bridgette Hartley T-shirt and a Kate Roberts shirt. The proceeds of this auction went towards Lunga Ntuli's 'Talent Is Never Enough' (TINE) sport and life skills organization.

Olympic gold and silver medallist Chad Le Clos and JP Pietersen at the SETE Gala Dinner
Born out of a need to promote sport in rural areas, as well to empower women, Ntuli recently launched the Non-Profit Organisation TINE, guided by his National Diploma in Sport Management (Durban University of Technology) as well as her Certificate in Sport Psychology and Soccer Instructor qualification. By running coaching workshops for Grade R Educators, 98% of whom are women, TINE aims to teach educators and learners the basics of different sporting codes such as athletics, rugby, netball, cricket, and soccer. TINE has a number of high profile members, including Zinhle Ndawonde (SA U20 Women's Rugby), Makhosi Luthuli (Banyana Banyana), Marchelle Mouron (Former SPAR Protea's manager) as well as many more. According to Ntuli, "as a newly-registered NPO, any funding generously donated by the SETE 2012 Official Olympic Welcome Back Gala Dinner will be applied in the furtherance of developmental sporting events, aimed at assisting previously disadvantaged communities. At TINE, we believe that although talent is something that you are born with, it is not permanent and when partnered with proper training and guidance, one can achieve anything in life".

Kass Naidoo and Olympic bronze medallist Bridgitte Hartley at the SETE Gala Dinner
Also at the glitzy event was a Brazilian delegation from Brazil, represented by the Brazilian Ambassador to South Africa and upper-echelon administrators from Brazil's top soccer team, Palmeiras FC, an important connection in light of the global events that Brazil will be hosting in the years to come, namely the FIFA World Cup in 2014, and the 2016 Olympic Games. As a token of goodwill, Jair Jussio (Director at Palmeiras FC) presented a Palmeiras FC jersey with the name "Fikile" printed on it to SASCOC President Gideon Sam on behalf of South Africa's Minister of Sport, Fikile Mbalula, at last night's star-studded Gala Dinner.

During his speech, Michael Mabuyakhulu (MEC for Economic Development and Tourism in KZN) said "this night is to celebrate the achievement of our country and of our individuals. South African's have a reason to adore sport as they see the benefits that is has for our people. We want to share in the global community as we aim to play an active role in international sport". Bridgitte Hartley, who won a bronze medal in the woman's 500m K1 canoe sprint, said "I absolutely loved the evening, the man on stilts with the paddle especially caught my eye! I'm just excited to be a part of this evening which shares in KZN's joy and love of sport".

SA Volleyball player Nathan Earnest, Anneline Nambiar, Olympic paddler Tiffany Kruger and Ryan Brennan at the SETE Gala Dinner
Sugen Pillay, Director for Business Development at TEPG and SETE Conference Director, said that "TEPG was honoured to have hosted our Olympian medallists and sports celebrities at the Gala Dinner on Wednesday night. This reaffirms the commitment of the sports industry to the objectives of SETE and the value that this event has on the SA sports tourism industry."

Both the SETE conference and exhibition (12-14 September) are intended to promote the country as a popular sports and events destination by facilitating relationships between South Africa's tourism, sport and event industries. To this end, the SETE exhibition will feature an estimated 100 exhibitors as well as over 50 international hosted buyers (IHB's), whilst the conference programme will include presentations and panel discussions anchored by keynote speakers who are all specialists within their respective fields. A feature of the SETE conference that is sure to generate significant interest will be the National Sports Tourism Steering committee's presentation of its 17 year strategy. Shaping and advancing South Africa's development as a sports tourism destination, this plan will identify the key international events that South Africa should bid for, as well as the domestic events that need governmental support, in order to grow the country's sports tourism industry.

For more information, visit, like 'SETE.ZA' on Facebook, and follow @SETE_ZA on Twitter. SETE supports the inaugural South African Travel and Tourism Industry Conference (SATTIC, 2 - 4 September), a combined initiative of member associations of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA).

The Sports and Events Tourism Exchange is hosted by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development and Tourism, partnered by CATHSSETA, SASCOC and Tourism KZN, and supported by Springbok Atlas, SAA and SABC.

Photographer credit: Dori & Cormac



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