Pietermaritzburg – The Dusi Canoe Marathon fever that grips KwaZulu-Natal around this time of year is palpable and once again the province’s Department of Sport and Recreation has thrown its weight behind the race as it continues its support for the three-day iconic journey to Blue Lagoon.
The Department of Sport and Recreation teamed up with the Dusi Canoe Marathon in 2014 and following the race being a resounding success have decided to continue their support of the race in 2015 and they are glad that they are once again involved in such an important event in the province.
“The KZN Department of Sport and Recreation (DSR) is proud to support this historic event in its 64th year,” MEC for Arts, Culture, Sport and Recreation Ntombikayise Sibhidla-Saphetha said. “The Dusi is one of the most iconic sporting events in our province and we want to ensure that it remains the premier canoeing event in the country.”
The focus on canoeing by the Department of Sport and Recreation does not only have the interests of the Dusi Canoe Marathon in mind but they also are involved in making the sport of canoeing accessible for all people from all different walks of life.
“As the main sponsor, KZNDSR, through its partnership with the Natal Canoe Club and the KZN Canoe Union, is keen to see an increase in the number of young people from townships and rural areas participate and, more importantly, win the Dusi and other canoe races.
“Out of 1 600 paddlers expected this year, about 120 developmental paddlers from disadvantaged backgrounds will be starting the race.
“These developmental athletes are beneficiaries of the Department’s initiative to promote the sport in all communities,” she added.
The Department of Sport and Recreation has invested a large sum of money into paddling in the province and with this they hope to see a number of these up and coming paddlers do well and with recent results and form considered there are a number of these young stars that are hoping to finish in the gold medal positions.
“For the 2014/15 financial year the Department has invested R5.8 million into the staging of the marathon and programmes for the development paddlers,” she mentioned.
An Academy has been set up at the Natal Canoe Club for aspiring paddlers and backing a development initiative like this is a step forward in taking the sport of canoeing to the people and change the stigma that has surrounded the sport for a long time.
“For many years canoeing has been regarded as an elite sport and it is the Department’s goal is to make it accessible to all in the province.
“We are confident that the establishment of the academy at the NCC will be instrumental in nurturing the raw talent of young people from poor communities and fast track their progress in the sport to become champions,” a confident Sibhidla-Saphetha explained.
The success of the development of paddlers in the province can clearly be seen through the success of a number of the black paddlers that have taken part in the Dusi as well as other races around the province and country.
The 64th edition of the Dusi Canoe Marathon takes place from Camps Drift in Pietermaritzburg to Blue Lagoon in Durban from Thursday 19 to Saturday 21 February 2015.