Jack Cheetham Memorial and Letsema Awards

Murray & Roberts, in partnership with the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC), hosted the 34th annual Jack Cheetham Memorial and Letsema Awards at a gala event held in Sandton last week Thursday.

The Jack Cheetham Memorial Award was initiated by Murray & Roberts 34 years ago in recognition of the special qualities of Jack Cheetham, a former director of the company and the inspirational captain of the South African cricket team in the 1950s who was able to instil in young people the belief that they could win. The award targets sports development projects, focusing on individuals or teams that have the potential to be champions.

The Murray & Roberts Letsema Award was first awarded in 2009 following the outstanding performance of athlete Hilton Langenhoven who captured the attention of the world at the 2008 Paralympics in Athens. This award recognises sports development projects for people with disabilities.

Waves of Change was awarded the Jack Cheetham Memorial Award for their outstanding development work within the Cape Town community, and the Letsema Award for sporting projects for disabled athletes, went to Wheelchair Tennis South Africa. Both projects receive R500 000 payable over five years.

Waves for Change provides surf therapy programmes for young people affected by violence and abuse in volatile township communities. The programme aims to correct the anti-social and high-risk behaviour patterns that are associated with continuous exposure to emotional distress and trauma through intensive surf training and psychosocial support services. The programme also aims to be inclusive and transform the South African surfing landscape. Waves for Change was formally launched in 2012 and now reaches 250 youth each week and employing 16 coaches across three townships in Cape Town.

Wheelchair Tennis South Africa was established in 2005 and has grown participation in the sport from 18 players to over 500 players today. They have also expanded their network to include 50 centres across all 9 provinces and host 6 International Tennis Federation events annually. The programme consists of an introduction to the sport at interested clubs, then offers weekly group coaching and equipment. Players who perform well are introduced to competition at regional and national level and then progressing to participation at international events. Due to the work and impact of WTSA, South Africa has the second highest number of wheelchair tennis players, ranking 4th in the world in terms of the Quads division, 8th in the Open Women’s and 11th in the Open Men’s Division. Their goal is to have a minimum of six players qualifying for the Paralympics in 2016.

Runner up in the Jack Cheetham Award for able bodied sports development projects went to Umzinyathi Canoe Club, with No Limits Trampoline Club taking third place. In the Letsema category, runner up went to Fulton School for the Deaf and third place was awarded to the National Association for Blind Bowlers, Ekurhuleni Region.

Runners up in each category receive R150 000 over three years, while third place winners receive R75 000 over two years.

For Group Chief Executive, Henry Laas, the awards are a way for Murray & Roberts to help transform lives.

“Sport is an opportunity to positively affect the lives of young South Africans and with the additional financial support provided through the awards, we look forward to seeing these projects nurture and develop our youth and sporting talent into the future.”