To say it has been a bumpy ride this year would be an understatement, considering the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
It has been a year like no other and the world took a heavy beating from the global virus that forced people from all walks of life to change their way of living. Words fail to fully capture the devastating effect the virus has caused in our communities.
On the sports front, the virus dealt a heavy blow as all sports activity came to a grinding halt. The likelihood of seeing new talent emerge was put on hold as sports events were cancelled and athletes confined to their homes.
That did not stop Vukani from checking in on athletes everywhere, albeit in ways we’ve not done before.
Earlier on in the year, we featured promising tennis player Siyolise Schultz, 9, from Khayelitsha, and her father, Garymcquire Mantile, as they shared dreams of the young player making it to the top.
Her tennis skills are getting refined at Anthony Harris Tennis Academy in Sea Point under the guidance of Eitan Adams who calls Siyolise a massive talent with a great future ahead of her.
Even though she started the year with the promise of making a lot of noise in the tennis court, all is not lost as the youngster has plenty of time on her side to fully develop into a great player. Plans to compete at the highest level are still very much the part of her team’s plans. She also looks up to another promising player and one who has already made a name for himself on the international stage in Khololwam Montsi. The 17-year-old Montsi’s exploits on the tennis court give the likes of Siyolise the much needed boost in their abilities to also be conquerors. looking back at the plans.
Speaking of the little ones making a name for themselves, another 10-year-old started the year on a high with his eye catching rugby skills. Lamla Magedezi earned himself a full rugby scholarship to a prestigious Grey College in Bloemfontein. Grey has produced the likes of Ruan Pienaar, Francois Steyn and CJ van der Linde who made the Springboks team during their careers, a path Lamla seeks to follow. The year halted rugby fans from seeing the young man do what he is good at and showcasing the abilities that he poses, but there is no doubt that should he put on his rugby boots and lay his hands on the oval shaped ball, spectators have no other choice but to marvel at his game.
The nasty player of a virus we are dealing with, as Vukani sports editor Fuad Esack put it,meant we lost out of some of the biggest youth tournaments this year.
The Bayhill under-19 Premier Cup and the Engen Knockout Challenge had to be cancelled. The two competitions are arguably the biggest youth tournaments in the country and the launching pad of many football players.
The Benni Maccarthies, David Kannemeyers and Thulani Sereros of this world appeared in such competitions and would later go on to be big stars. Many will not get that opportunity again as age will not be on their side come 2021.
As if the year was not tough enough for the young ballers who looked to launch their careers through a tournament like Bayhill, the competition also lost its longest serving member and founder Roger Clayton.
Clayton, through the competition, influenced and helped fast track careers of many footballers in the country. Clayton passed away in September having been part of the annual football spectacle since 1989 when he paid from his pocket the trophies in the inaugural event.
Looking back at some of the tragic events that happened this year, it was beautiful to realise Mzuvukile ‘Old bones’ Magwaca was not ‘lost’ completely in boxing scenes.
After a career ending robbery in his site C home two years ago, he could not be blamed for turning his back on the sport after watching his bread and butter being snatched from him.
Having your boxing dream disappear from the face of the earth and realising you will no longer be dancing behind your jab professionally, took a big toll.
But like a champ he was before the shooting he again emerged this year as a member of the Pride Fighting Academy where is transferring the skills that saw him amass a 20 win record with no loss in his career as a boxing coach.
He again emerged revitalised and accepted the circumstances he found himself facing and looking to be forced once again in the boxing fraternity, whether in the corner guiding new fighters. With renowned coach and mixed martial arts gym owner Mike Mouneimne in his corner Old bones is not completely lost in the boxing scene.
We also paid tribute to various sporting legends, those that have fallen in 2020, and those still alive, including bro Don Mguga, Buyisile Kilifele and Nabiel Dien.
With most things going virtual in the year 2020, runners had to live by the new rules in the running world with virtual marathons becoming the thing and possibly shaping the way marathons will be run going forward. Realising that a race can actually work and be a success without the need to have big numbers crowded in one place, marathon organisers may be looking at making virtual marathons a permanent feature on future race calendars.
We look forward to welcoming 2021 in the hope that things will get better. But that can only be if we play it safe and obey all of the necessary Covid protocols: mask up, sanitise and keep your distance