Munyaradzi Chiwanza, Bloemfontein
BURSARIES worth R5 million will be awarded to outstanding athletes during the five-day annual SA School Sport National Championships which kicked off on Tuesday at the University of the Free State.
Inaugurated last year in Tshwane, the event involves schools from all provinces in the country.
A total of 15 000 schools were registered for this year’s edition which started with preliminary regional rounds in February.
More than 6 700 learners are participating in the 14 sporting codes being contested this year, including athletics, soccer, volleyball, table tennis, hockey, gymnastics, rugby, cricket and chess as well as indigenous games morabaraba and juksei.
Gauteng, which won the games last year, will seek to defend their title as they battle for honours at more than 10 venues around Mangaung which include the Central University of Technology, Tempe military base and Navalsig High School.
“Most of the learners are elated and more than inspired to be part of these games and them knowing that they are the champions from their
provinces gives them a sense of pride,” project manager of the games, Tsholofelo Lejaka, said.
“We have the poor of the poorest schools coming for the games. The learners now have a chance to showcase their talent and receive bursaries.”
Lejaka added that a total of R40 million was set aside by the government to bankroll the games from the intra level to the national level.
“We are broadening access of resources to the schools around the country,”he said.
“We have more than 24 900 schools in South Africa and we still have long way to go to afford every school a chance to play, compete and benefit.
“We will have talent identification and development programmes during the games as we celebrate excellence from the grassroots level and talent scouts will also be there to discover talent and nurture it.”