Johannesburg - South African sport has come a long way in levelling
the playing field, President Jacob Zuma said at the 10-year anniversary
of the South African Sport Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) in Johannesburg on
"As much as we have made many strides to achieve
equity, excellence and representivity in sport, there is still a great
deal of work to be done to ensure the levelling of the playing field,"
Welcoming the guests, Zuma quipped that Parliament had been quite vibrant in recent times.
He paid tribute to athletes that had played their part during the anti-apartheid movement.
"We owe these sons of the soil a debt of gratitude for
making it possible for us to rejoice as we celebrate Sascoc's 10-year
existence in our 20 years of democracy and freedom," the president said.
"We salute these pioneers and their generations of patriotic sportsmen and women," he said.
"We are also celebrating the history of struggles waged by progressive sports and Olympic bodies."
Zuma said the country still had to reverse the legacy of apartheid which also had an effect on sport.
"Due to the history of apartheid and the segregated
manner in which facilities were provided, many communities still do not
have recreational or sports facilities," Zuma said.
"That is one of the priorities of this government, to
build human settlements that will have all these facilities ultimately
for our people."
Zuma went onto hail Springbok legend Joost van der Westhuizen, who is currently battling motor-neuron disease.
"We also salute Joost van der Westhuizen who has contributed immensely to the growth and success of rugby in our country.
"We urge the whole nation to support Joost and his family as he fights a big and difficult battle against motor neuron disease."
Zuma then praised South African teams and in particular
Bafana Bafana for qualifying for next year's Africa Cup of Nations to be
held in Equatorial Guinea.
"We end the year 2014 on a high note as our teams have qualified for international tournaments," he said.
"This means that 2015 will be both a busy and exciting
year for the nation as we cheer our teams on, awaiting good performance
on all fronts."
Zuma joked that it was a special feat for the national
soccer team to qualify for the continental showpiece without the country
hosting the tournament.
"We congratulate Bafana Bafana on their qualification
to participate in the Africa Cup of Nations after a long period of
drought," Zuma said.
"We will all fully support the team in this campaign to bring the Cup back home - just like we did in 1996."