The Minister of Sport and Recreation SA, Mr Fikile Mbalula
The Deputy Minister of Sport and Recreation SA, Mr Gert Oosthuizen
The International Olympic Committee Member, Dr Sam Ramsamy
The President of SASCOC, Mr Gideon Sam, and other SASCOC Board Members,
Team South Africa and your support staff,
Fellow South Africans,
We extend a warm welcome to you all at this special occasion in which we greet and bid farewell to Team South Africa ahead of the London Olympic and Paralympic Games.
We are pleased to be sending off our hard working teams to go and represent the nation abroad, and fly the rainbow flag high. The year 2012 marks the 20th anniversary of South Africa’s re-admission into the international sport community in general and Olympics in particular.
Each time we send our teams to compete abroad, we celebrate the role of sports in the struggle to bring about a free, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic South Africa. This is more important for us this year, it being the year of marking 100 years of the oldest liberation movement in the continent, the ANC.
The Olympic movement stood with us at every turn of the struggle for freedom and liberation, stating boldly and unapologetically, that there shall be no normal sport in an abnormal society. The international isolation of racist South African Teams and the boycott of touring South African Teams contributed immensely to mobilising the world against apartheid South Africa.
When freedom dawned, the very same activists and the Olympic movement who had campaigned for the boycott of South Africa, began working tirelessly for the return of South Africa to the world sporting and Olympic community.
These torch-bearers also laid the foundation for the transformation and development of a new sporting and Olympic landscape. This has enabled us to gather here this evening, with you Team South Africa, the representatives and ambassadors of the people of South Africa on and off the field of play.
You should bear in mind that you are the representatives of a proud nation and a proud legacy of fighting for freedom, justice and human rights.
You represent a nation that has been able to overcome what seemed impossible, and buried apartheid colonialism, institutionalized racism and hatred, when some thought it could never happen.
We are continuing our work of building a united, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous South Africa, and to achieve success in all fields, including sport.
We have had some difficulties in the sporting arena, but we have had some glorious successes too.
We must build on the successes. We successfully hosted the Rugby World Cup in 1995 and won it magnificently! We hosted the Africa Cup of Nations in 1996 and conquered! We successfully hosted the Cricket Indian Professional League in 2007.
We successfully organized the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup, hosting thousands of foreign soccer lovers in a month long football festival.
We built state of the art infrastructure including stadiums and roads and refurbished our airports, including finishing a brand new one, King Shaka in La Mercy near Durban. We proved Africa’s capability to the world and challenged all negative stereotypes about our continent.
Team South Africa, now is your turn to take this nation to even greater heights! We have been to Beijing, we are now going to London and we must do better there than in Beijing.
And as you prepare for London, there are some important values for you to remember. These are discipline, passion, commitment and dedication. These will propel you to greater heights.
More importantly, we want you to be clean - no drugs, no hectic partying and no negative behaviour of any sort.
In addition, support one another and take care of each other on foreign soil. We will be fully behind you, waving our beautiful rainbow flag at every available moment. Go out there, enjoy yourselves and win! We want at least 12 medals, nothing less.
Win for South Africa. And win for President Nelson Mandela who is turning 94 years old on the 18th of July, who laid the foundation for a winning nation in 1994. Nihambe kahle nonke! Sizobe sisemuva kwenu, sinixhasile ngaso sonke isikhathi.
Niphumelele nijabulise iNingizimu Afrika yonkana.
I thank you!