Johannesburg – The Sports Trust, headed by executive director Anita Mathews, was appointed as the implementation partner/agent to facilitate the timeous payment to potential medallists, teams and coaches for the Olympics and Paralympics.
In fulfilling its role as the implementation partner/agent, the Trust has reached out to South African athletes for the designs and samples of clothing with sizes and specifications aligned to their needs, including the distribution thereof.
Established jointly by the private and public sectors in 1994, the Trust acts as an independent organisation.
The Trust, which is a strategically placed implementation partner for sports development in historically disadvantaged communities, assists companies with their alignment towards broad-based black economic empowerment requirements.
As a public benefit organisation and non-government organisation, it is also able to issue section 18A tax certificates to the many donors, and also has the mandate to facilitate sports delivery at grassroots and national level.
This includes the Olympics and Paralympics that take place every four years.
The Games offer a rare opportunity to many athletes who want to realise their dreams by taking part in these global events.
To be part of these global events, the athletes put in a solid, dedicated and focused training programme many months before the Games, which last for a few seconds, minutes, hours, and sometimes a few days for some athletes.
However, like all the sporting events, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics were cancelled due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 global pandemic.
Disappointment and heartbreak set in following the cancelation, as all the preparations and sacrifices amounted to nothing.
For some athletes who had reached the ultimate peak of their careers, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics were penciled to be their last global events before they retired.
Apart from the disappointment, there were also financial pressures, as most athletes could not provide for their families. The situation was dire and hopelessness took over.
It was for this reason that the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) set up a programme to support deserving and potential medal prospects as they prepare to take part in the postponed Games, scheduled to take place between July and August this year.
The NLC funds were made available to Olympians and Paralympians.
Together with the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee, the athletes were identified, across all sporting codes, to receive financial support and aid.
Those selected were able to cover their living expenses, medical expenses, get access to technical coaches, physios, and upgrade their technical equipment.
All this had remained a pipe dream until the NLC stepped in and shone a ray of light.
The NLC funding has been a welcome relief to many athletes who have since expressed their heartfelt gratitude and appreciation.
The athletes have thanked the NLC for the much-needed assistance during the period of uncertainty and for enabling them to resuscitate their dreams of taking part in the 2021 Tokyo Games.
Testimonials from South Africa’s best-performing athletes
Zanele Situ – Paralympian: “I don’t have words to describe the gratitude I feel for what the NLC has done for us. I did not know where to go or what to do. I just want to say a big thank you to the NLC for the support, because without the funds, I had to depend on friends and family to get by.”
Anrune Liebenberg – Paralympian: “Thank you to the National Lotteries Commission for supporting my dreams and standing behind us. With the funds, I will be able to pay for some of the much-needed technical equipment. The costs of a prostatic arm are very high and this [NLC funds] will help pay for that. I am proud to be wearing our national colours and representing the country.”
KG (Kgothatso) Montjane – Paralympian: “The much-needed funds from the National Lotteries Commission mean that I will be able to visit a physio and keep the body fi t. The support also means that I will be able to perform at the highest level and start focusing on my preparations. I am very grateful to the NLC for the financial support.”
Wade van Niekerk – Olympian: “Thank you NLC for stepping up and giving us a boost. These much-needed funds will assist all the athletes in their preparations [for the Olympics]. We’re grateful for the help.”
Akani Simbine – Olympian: “This is my journey to the podium, which was aff ected by the pandemic and the postponement of the 2020 Games. Thank you to the National Lotteries Commission for making everything better.”
Jonathan Ntutu – Paralympian: “The pandemic and no sport participation placed a great deal of pressure on me and my family. I was struggling to support them and they depended on me. With the support and funds from the NLC, things are better, and I am able to support my family and focus exclusively on my preparations for the Games.
Chad Le Clos – Olympian: “Great to represent my country at the Olympics. The funds from the National Lotteries Commission are greatly appreciated, not only by me, but all the athletes who will benefit from the funding. Thank you to everyone for your support, without you we are nowhere.”