Pretoria - Team South Africa were given two rousing send-offs to the 2014 Commonwealth Games on Tuesday.
The team, which will travel to Glasgow,
Scotland and take on their Commonwealth counterparts across 15 different
sporting codes, first travelled to the Union Buildings in Pretoria
where they were addressed by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.
“As you depart these shores I remind you that sport has always been
an invaluable tool to promote social cohesion and unite our population,”
the Deputy President told the gathered team.
“Sport is the glue that binds us and we have been part of former President Nelson Mandela’s winning nation ever since 1994.
“This is a most important journey that you are embarking on where you
will meet other countries, people from other locales and language
groups and you can demonstrate who you really are.
The Deputy President also reminded the team that the South Africans would be particularly noticed in Glasgow on Friday, July 18.
“That Friday is Nelson Mandela Day as declared by the United Nations
and people will look at you and say ‘these are Nelson Mandela’s children
here in Glasgow.’
“The nation is fully behind you and that should embolden you. There are 51 million South Africans behind you.
“Remember that he who dares, wins.
“Dance on the world stage, own it, and show them who you are.”
SASCOC president Gideon Sam told the team: “We are here to receive our commands from the Deputy-President .
“We will represent South Africa with honour and dignity. We as South
Africans have never been below sixth in the Commonwealth Games medals
table and I am of the opinion that we can’t go lower than fifth in
“We have always found the countries of India, Australia, Canada and
England to be powerful opponents and at the moment we are battling with
India for that medal table position.”
Also at the Union Buildings, Team South Africa’s official flag bearer was named as Cecil Afrika.
The veteran rugby sevens player will thus lead Team South Africa at the opening ceremony at Celtic Park on Wednesday, July 23.
“Thank you for this privilege,” said a humble Afrika. “We will do
our best and make South Africa proud… we are honoured to be here today.”
At the last Games in New Delhi, India, Team South Africa ended fifth
on the medals table (alongside Kenya) with 33 medals (12 gold, 11 silver
and 10 bronze).
Later in the evening the team assembled at the holding camp base in
Boksburg for an extravagant and action-packed banquet dinner before
their departure to Glasgow on Wednesday.
Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula wished the team well while among the
speakers was British High Commissioner to South Africa, Mrs Judith
She said: “From July 23 to August 3, 6 500 athletes and officials from
71 nations and territories will be in Glasgow for 20th Commonwealth
“And just like London 2012, everyone in the United Kingdom is looking
forward to welcoming the Commonwealth at Glasgow 2014 and to make the
Games a success. Team South Africa will be part of that excitement and I
wish all your athletes every success at the Games.”
The Games will conclude with the closing ceremony at Hampden Park on Sunday, August 3.