Sam beats SA drum
Gideon Sam (Gallo)
Johannesburg - Gideon Sam, president of South Africa's Olympic governing body SASCOC, has thanked all those behind the successful staging of the Soccer World Cup and has now urged South Africans to look further down the road.
"So many people, from the national government through to our national soccer body SAFA, must be thanked for this amazing sporting success," said Sam, speaking this week after SASCOC had announced they would formally oversee a bid for the 2020 Olympics.
"This has been an absolutely brilliant World Cup the entire country can be proud of.
"It's so nice to see after all the years of hard labour that the fruits of success tastes so sweet.
"Part of the reason for the success is the healthy relationship that we as a sports movement enjoy with the government. This united front results in unity all the way from the top and downwards.
"I will never forget seeing the number of white children on the streets of Soweto welcoming the bus carrying, not our national soccer team Bafana Bafana, but the Ghana national team.
"This is clear evidence of the power of sport to unite people."
Again Sam referred to the government's role in the sporting success. "This was all possible because the government stood behind the sporting bodies and the people of South Africa came to the party, and from all walks of life.
Sam then focused on the road ahead. "The success of the World Cup will linger a long time but obviously we must clear our heads and ask ourselves: What next?
"There's no doubting we have the infrastructure in our major cities, now as SASCOC we need to create new dreams and string them together.
"Already we have been chosen to host the Judo Junior World championships in Cape Town (2011) and the World Transplant Games are coming to Durban in 2013.
"We may host the African cross-country championships in 2012 and I've also had a very strong approach from International World Games Association (IWGA) president Ron Froelich, with the possibility of bidding for the Games some time in the future."
The last World Games were held in Kaohsiung, Taiwan in 2009 and the next Games will be in Cali, Colombia in 2013.
"So you can see that things are happening all the time," said Sam.
"Now from a SASCOC perspective we must go back to strategy and continue learning from the lessons that come from hosting major tournaments.
"Certainly we can learn from a country like Brazil, who in the space of two short years will be hosting the world's two biggest sporting events, the 2014 Soccer World Cup and then the 2016 Olympic Games.
"So we are going back to all our federations, encouraging them to do their homework and put their hands up when it comes to hosting major events going forward.
"At the same time we must remember that the so-called minor sports also have their place in the sun. In this regard something like the World Games is a very important sporting fixture."
South African cities now have to prepare Olympic bid reports to hand in for SASCOC's consideration.
"As I've said before the soccer World Cup and Olympics are two enormous events that are not to be taken lightly.
"A vast amount of homework and consultation has to be done and all sides of the equation have to be taken into consideration by the stakeholders concerned."
Sam also had words of encouragement for South African track and field's "comeback kid" Caster Semenya who ran a fine time of 2min 04.22sec after a year on the sidelines after speculation over gender issues.
"It was a great run considering all she has been through and it was really exciting to see her back on track.
"Hopefully she'll go from strength to strength and soon be back to top speed."