Early Christ­mas sports gifts


DE­CEM­BER is the month in which most of us tend to wind down after a hec­tic year. But for a lot of sports peo­ple and sports teams, life goes on as nor­mal in the month of Christ­mas.

No sur­prise then, that South African sports fans have a tasty menu of top-class sport to sam­ple this week­end.

Yes­ter­day, for ex­am­ple, the coun­try’s old­est and most pres­ti­gious golf tour­na­ment, the South African Open, started at Rand­park in Jo­han­nes­burg.

Much of the at­ten­tion will be fo­cused on the high-pro­file South African trio of Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen and five-time SA Open cham­pion Ernie Els. But with a to­tal prize fund of R17 mil­lion up for grabs, plus a spot at next year’s Bri­tish Open, you can ex­pect top golf from the en­tire field.

The Bl­itzboks, mean­while, will be des­per­ate to make amends at the Cape Town Sevens. They had a dis­ap­point­ing out­ing in Dubai last week­end, but this week­end will be a very dif­fer­ent story. How could it not be with the in­tox­i­cat­ing car­ni­val at­mos­phere of a sold-out Cape Town Sta­dium as the back­drop. If that does not in­spire the Bl­itzboks to hit back strongly, noth­ing will.

Then, to­mor­row night, there is an­other high­light on the South African soc­cer cal­en­dar when Or­lando Pi­rates and Baroka clash in the Telkom knock­out fi­nal at the beau­ti­ful Nel­son Man­dela Bay Sta­dium in Port El­iz­a­beth.

In the one cor­ner, you have Baroka, the new kids on the block who only gained pro­mo­tion to the PSl in 2016, but who have made rapid strides un­der the as­tute chair­man­ship of Khur­ishi Mphahlele. They beat Wits and Sun­downs on the way to the fi­nal.

In the other cor­ner are the fabled Buc­ca­neers, who need no in­tro­duc­tion as one of our glam­our clubs. As Mphahlele said this week: “I want my team to be like Pi­rates. They are the best pro­fes­sional run team. I wish I can be like them.”

To take our cue from the name of the com­pe­ti­tion, ei­ther Baroka or Pi­rates will be knocked out and the other will dance long into the night.

En­joy a top week­end of sport.

Life changes in the in­stant. The or­di­nary in­stant.

US jour­nal­ist and nov­el­ist

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