Memorial lecture for Bhamjee

THE Sports Veterans’ Association (SVA) has planned a memorial lecture to remember and honour a great son of the soil, the late Ismail Bhamjee.

The purpose of the lecture is to record the meaningful and eventful role Bhamjee played in the struggle against apartheid sports and also his steadfast commitment and dedication in his endeavour to honour previously disadvantaged sportspeople for their outstanding achievements.

The lecture will take place on Saturday, August 18 at the Kharina Secondary School Hall. The lecture will commence at 2 pm.

Members of the public, from all walks of life, are invited to attend. The former president of South African Rugby Union and vice-president of the International Rugby Board, Oregan Hoskins, will present the lecture.

Bhamjee, an ardent supporter of the South African Council on Sport (SACOS) and an outspoken critic of apartheid sports, had acknowledged the role the sports boycott played in finally ridding the country of apartheid.

It was one of those areas that was auxiliary to the political struggle. However, Bhamjee also maintained that one could not place sports in such a high category as to say that it was instrumental in bringing about change, but he believed that what sports did, it focused people’s attention on the fact that we could not live almost a dual life in terms of which in everyday society we were denied basic rights, we were denied the opportunity to exercise our universal rights, and then go and play sports as if it was a normal world.

Sharon Rangiah, an executive member of the SVA described Bhamjee as a remarkable man in many respects.

She said: “As such persons are uncommon, it behoves us to treasure his memory and to record some of his important qualities both as a tribute to him, and as a set of standards for the younger generation to emulate. Known for his irreproachable and intellectual honesty, Ismail was a fearless champion of everything that was right and good.

“As we seek to build on his legacy, the memorial lecture will reflect on how the principles that Bhamjee espoused and relentlessly pursued can shape our moral framework and guide our actions. If we are to build on his legacy, we need to continue the work that he begam and more importantly hold true to the moral posture that he adopted.”

The current president of the SVA, Terence Hoskins, stated that Bhamjee had done much to humanise our sports laws and brought them into harmony with what the rest of the world wanted.

“The memorial lecture gives us all a chance to celebrate Ismail’s deeds, reflect on his wise guidance and toast his outspoken courage and steadfastness. His useful devotion to public causes merits the tributes he will receive this weekend,” said Hoskins.

Whilst Bhamjee is credited for initiating the creation and thereafter the formation of the SVA, his quest to recognise previously disadvantaged soccer players began as early as the 1980’s.

An article, which appeared in the Post newspaper on 2-5 March 1985, highlighted Bhamjee’s desire to publish a booklet recording the achievements of all the great soccer players in the past.

The SVA, which was established on August 4, has presented 421 awards to sportspeople from all codes of sport, thus far.

Rangiah said: “It is fitting that, as we celebrate the contribution of Ismail Bhamjee to sports, we will also reflect on the tasks that we must undertake to achieve the ideals for which he gave his life.

“We hope that this memorial lecture will serve as an ever-continuing inspiration and that there will be many others who will deserve perpetuation of their features on the community.”