South African cricket opening bat Herschelle Gibbs and premier league Vasco da Gama soccer stars Roberto Santo and Joseph Kamwendo, together with chart-topper singer Auriol Hayes, joined 3000 school children as they kept a ball in motion for an uninterrupted 50 hours, during the fifth annual Kellogg’s® Health of the Nation 50-Hour Sports Challenge this weekend.
The aim of the event, which took place at the Western Province Cricket Club Sports Centre from 2pm Friday 17 until 4pm Sunday 19 September, was to highlight the importance of physical activity in children’s lives. The participants, who hailed from 32 schools throughout the Peninsula, played 15 different indoor and outdoor sports over the course of the weekend including soccer, cricket, hockey, table tennis, badminton, netball, basketball, squash and touch rugby.
The Kellogg’s® Health of the Nation 50-Hour Sports Challenge, in association with Sporting Chance, Virgin Active and Kia Charity and Care plus media partners Good Hope FM and Let’s Play, is the largest sporting event of its kind in the country.
According to Brad Bing of Sporting Chance, the youth sports development agency that conceived and co-ordinated the event, for many of the participants it was a first time experience.
“Most of the learners have not had the opportunity to play sports such as badminton or squash before and the Kellogg’s® Health of the Nation 50-Hour Sports Challenge gives us the chance to introduce as many kids as possible to as many different sporting codes as possible,” said Bing. “The idea that kids play one sport limits opportunities for children who might not be good at football or cricket, but have talent to play tennis or badminton. The WP Badminton Association for instance, is in partnership with Sporting Chance and if they see a talented youngster they’ll help him or her to have more access to the sport.”
“The prime objective of Sporting Chance is to make sport available to as many children as possible irrespective of race, gender or social class,” said Bing. “Team sports are a great way of teaching children essential skills that can be applied throughout their lives. Sport shows us the beauty of friendship, camaraderie and team spirit and it helps us to deal with the hardships of failure, frustration and disappointment.”
Bing said the Challenge was originally born as a direct response to the results of the Health of the Nation research findings1, which were released in 2008. The study to investigate the physical fitness levels and lifestyles of South African children revealed that schoolchildren, from all backgrounds across the country showed a tendency towards the onset of obesity, similar to that seen in developed countries more than a decade ago. “It was obvious that South Africa faced a serious task in getting the nation to keep active and participate in physical activity to create a healthy lifestyle,” said Bing.
Western Cape MEC for Education Donald Grant who officially kicked off the event on Friday is also an advocate for encouraging physical activity amongst South African youth. “Research has shown that healthy, physically active children learn more effectively and achieve more academically,” said Grant. “I wholeheartedly support the Health of the Nation initiative as it encourages children to be physically active and educates them in the importance of health through balanced diet and exercise.”
“Up to a certain age, all boys and girls should ideally be exposed to sport,” continued Bing. “Research has shown you develop your habits by the age of 12. If you’re not playing sport or leading an active and healthy lifestyle by then, the chances are that sport and physical activity will not feature in your adult lifestyle. The Health of the Nation research that we pioneered with Tim Noakes proved that.”
“Health of the Nation is a groundbreaking project that focuses on the importance of physical activity and the positive role it plays in a child’s life,” said Sarah Mansfield, corporate spokesperson for the Kellogg Company of South Africa. “Whether at a social or competitive level, it is fundamental in the development of their personality, co-ordination and social development.
As a brand, Kellogg understands the importance of creating awareness and supports the work being done by Sporting Chance in encouraging self improvement.”
Kim Webster, CSR Manager for co-sponsor Virgin Active added, “Virgin Active believes that life’s more fun when you move. And with partnerships like this one with Sporting Chance and our Club V product we can introduce children to movement at a young age and encourage them towards adopting active and healthy lifestyles when they grow older.”
The Kellogg’s® Health of the Nation 50-Hour Sports Challenge is supported by the national Department of Health, the Department of Sport and Recreation, Education and Social Development and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa.
The Johannesburg leg of the Kellogg’s® Health of the Nation 50-Hour Sports Challenge runs from Friday 15 to Sunday 17 October at the Southern Suburbs Recreation Centre in Rosettenville to coincide with National Nutrition Week during October.
Schools or individuals wishing to participate in the Kellogg’s® Health of the Nation 50-hour Sports Challenge can contact Natalie at Sporting Chance on 021 683 7299 or log onto www.sportingchance.co.za