When companies still believe.

Posted by on January 21, 2010 in Blog, Uncategorized | 0 comments

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It’s fair to say that, given the recovering economic climate, companies are still a bit shy to dish out sponsorship. Especially when the arena of the sponsorship is a sport that is easily tainted by mal-practice at administrative level, performance-enhancing drug abuse by athletes and the Caster Semenya debacle in 2009. Athletics gets a bad rap in South Africa.

Related, is road running. Running clubs have struggled over the last couple of years and have been characterised by dwindling numbers, cancelled races and less and less money in terms of sponsorships. The running world has however seen a remarkable increase in interest and growth with the “explosion” of trail running. Some of the old stalwarts of the sport have returned to promote the sport and manage athletes. So it was a privilege to be invited to the launch of the Nedbank Green Dream Team.

The fact is that South African runners are no longer competitive on the world stage. It’s not that we lack the talent, the guys and girls are just not running the times that will put them on international podiums. We have to look back to the era of Fordyce, Bester and De La Motte to find South Africans that could run 5H30 Comrades Marathons for example!

The launch of the Nedbank Running Club’s Green Dream Team was announced on Wednesday 20 January at Nike headquarters in Midrand with aim of producing athletes in all distance disciples who can post world-class times. The team consists of a mixture of the top South African athletes competing in ASA and IAAF recognised race distances.

“For too long now South African athletes have not featured on the international stage and we want to make a meaningful contribution to change this.” Says Nick Bester, Nedbank Running Club Manager. Athletes on the Green Dream Team have therefore been selected on the basis of talent, commitment, youth, and most importantly, the ability to produce internationally competitive times.

Under the guidance of legends like Bruce Fordyce, Nick Bester and Hendrick Ramaala, the athletes will continue to work with their individual coaches but will be incentivised under the banner of the Green Dream Team. But these will be incentives with a difference! In the past, athletes have had to race as often as they can to earn money. Problem is that they can’t run world class times very often. In the longer distances, maybe once or twice a year. In Comrades, maybe once in a lifetime. So the incentive structure is very different and has a ceiling relating to the number of events. I think it’s a brilliant concept.

Nike is also proud to support these athletes as technical supplier to the team, ensuring that every member competes in the latest technology and comfort when it comes to apparel and footwear.

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