South Africa: The South African Air Force (SAAF) hosted a Sports Merit Awards 2022 ceremony on 30 January 2023 at Air Force Base Swartkop to recognise serving members and sports newsmakers for their outstanding athletic performances remarkable contributions to the sport.
Those who graced the occasion that was revelling 19 sporting codes included the Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Monde Lobese, Director Physical Training and Recreation, Brigadier General M.M. Tanda, Ms Cecilia Molokwane, President of South African Netball in Africa and Mr Edward Motale (fondly known as Magents) who is a well-known football player for Orlando Pirates and former Bafana Bafana football maestro.
The Chief of the South African Air Force, Lieutenant General Wiseman Mbambo, commended those who have distinguished themselves through high-calibre athletic performance or longstanding contribution to sports, saying, “This evening marks the culmination of our physical training, sports and recreation annual calendar and we take pride in recognising outstanding character and commitment to excellence, exhibited by our sportsmen, sportswomen, sports officials and sports administrators, countrywide.
He further said, “I was impressed by the energy and eagerness to strive for glory shown by our members during the Chief SA National Defence Force’s Prestige Week. The SA Air Force ultimately triumphed over all services and showcased renewed passion for continuously improving individual and organisational performance. Once again, congratulations to all those who participated.”
2023 is very significant in our country’s sporting calendar. For the first time ever in the country, we hosted the Women’s Cricket World Cup under 19, and our team performed remarkably well. They set new records on the world stage and qualified to participate in the upcoming women’s cricket world cup under 19 planned for Malaysia in 2025. What is most important and significant is that the manager for the SA under 19 Women’s Cricket Team is an Air Force member, Sergeant Marcia Letswalo, a Physical Training Sport & Recreation Clerk working at the SA Air Force Headquarters Unit, said General Mbambo.
“Further, he added, “We are also privileged and grateful that as a country, we will be hosting the first World Netball Cup 2023 in Cape Town, and it is no wonder that tonight, we are graced with the presence of the President of Netball South Africa and Africa, Miss Cecilia Molokwane.”
The SA National Defence Force and the entire Air Force wished the entire team a successful journey and expressed hope that they will put their on the map by scooping a gold medal, following in the footsteps of the mighty Banyana Banyana. The team seemed extraordinarily happy to announce that the SA Air Force’s Major Anna Makallane will be a referee at the 2023 World Netball Cup.”
The Chief further spoke highly of Officers Commanding and Sports Officers who have initiated and promoted mass participation in sports amongst members at their respective Bases and Units, as well as the promulgated participation in the Tuesday and Thursday physical periods.
According to Colonel Percy Letadi, the Senior Staff Officer of Physical Training Sport & Recreation in the SA Air Force, “these awards recognise individuals or groups who have gone above and beyond to provide time, effort and support to the promotion and development of sports. This year, we also have civilians who have confronted life-altering situations in sport, those who loom large internationally even, and used perseverance and determination through sport or physical recreation to overcome challenges and, most importantly, serve as role models to give hope and inspiration to others in similar situations.”
Sergeant Lehloma Monethi, who works as a Command and Control Comms Non-Commissioned Officer at Air Force Base Bloemspruit, proudly scooped the Fittest Soldier Trophy.
He mentioned that “Sports plays an important role in the military community and has shown to foster healthy relationships, build stronger leadership skills, and have a multitude of physical and mental health benefits. It also plays a key role in operational successfulness, and when members partake in sports, they become better leaders and team players.”
Speaking to Ms Cecilia Molokwane, she expressed, “You are the pride of the country. The country owes you gratitude and has nothing but immense pride in you. May you stay safe in every fight you encounter. I feel safe and sound in my home because I know we have troops like you fighting for our country. May you receive accomplishments in all your missions, and may you stay safe and sound in every quest you take. Congratulations to all those who were recognised today. They deserve all these and more.”
The august event happened after a three-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which ravaged the entire world to minimal movement and necessary restrictions. MOST IMPROVED
• Lieutenant Colonel M.F. Dibakoane || Jukskei || Air Force Base Makhado;
• Major N.H. Madonsela || Cricket || Air Force Base Waterkloof;
• Warrant Officer 2 P.D. Ferreira || Squash || Air Force Base Waterkloof;
• Flight Sergeant D.J. Kotze || Badminton || Air Force Base Makhado;
• Flight Sergeant T.G. Mofokeng || Combat Rifle Shooting || Air Force Base Hoedspruit;
• Flight Sergeant J.J.G. Oosthuizen || Fock and Surf Angling || Air Force Base Langebaanweg;
• Sergeant R.M. Mangoale || Volleyball || Air Force Base Hoedspruit;
• Sergeant T.J. Mhangwane || Fresh Water Angling || Air Force Base Makado;
• Sergeant P.O Moeketsi || Football – Male || Air Force Wase Waterkloof;
• Sergeant P.B. Nonyane || Chess – Females || Air Force Base Waterkloof;
• Sergeant L.J. Tsotetsi – Chess – Males || Air Force Base Bloemspruit;
• Corporal G.M.H. Madi || Rugby || Air Force Base Swartkop;
• Corporal T.C. Mathebula || Football – Females || Air Force Base Hoedspruit;
• Corporal B. Rakganya || Netball – Females || Air Force Base Waterkloof;
• Corporal T.E. Rantsome || Netball – Males || Air Force Base Hoedspruit and
• Lance Corporal L.N. Zatu || Swimming || Air Force Base Makhado.
• Major S.C. Strydom || Swimming – Males || SA Air Force Headquarters;
• Major J.Q. van der Walt || Golf || SA Air Force Headquarters;
• Lieutenant K.P. Mathebula || Chess – Females || Air Force Base Langebaanweg;
• Candidate Officer T.J. Verwey || Combat Rifle Shooting || Air Force Base Swartkop;
• Warrant Officer 2 L.C. Kruger || Fresh Water Angling || Air Force Base Makhado;
• Warrant Officer 2 A.S. Lombaard || Jukskei || Air Force Base Hoedspruit;
• Flight Sergeant A.J.D. de Bruyn || Badminton || SA Air Force College;
• Flight Sergeant W.F.A. Kisten || Rock and Surf Angling || Air Force Base Overberg;
• Flight Sergeant N.M. Mxakaza || Netball – Female || Air Force Base Ysterplaat;
• Sergeant N.E. Khumalo || Football – Female || SA Air Force College;
• Sergeant M.P.S. Ledwaba || Chess – Males || Air Force Base Makhado;
• Sergeant L. Monethi || Fittest Soldier – Men || Air Force Base Hoedspruit;
• Sergeant L. Moroe || Netball – Males || Air Force Base Waterkloof;
• Sergeant P.S. Ramakolo || Football – Males || Air Force Base Makhado;
• Sergeant G. Smith || Rugby || Air Force Base Swartkop;
• Sergeant T.V. Tube || Volleyball || Air Force Base Swartkop;
• Sergeant P.J. Verwey || Cricket – Male || Air Force Base Ysterplaat;
• Corporal L.N. Parker || Cricket – Female || Air Force Base Ysterplaat;
• Lance Corporal L.S. van Vuuren || Squash || Air Force Base Ysterplaat;
• Airmen S.L. Stanton || Swimming – Females || Air Force Base Waterkloof and
• Airmen M. Vukapi || Fittest Soldier – Women || Air Force Base Hoedspruit.
25 Years Sustained Achievement in Sport:
• Lieutenant Colonel M.F. O’Connor || Bowls and
• Flight Sergeant Mokhobela || Football.
National and International Colours:
• Lieutenant Colonel J. Trzos || National || Rock and Surf Angling || SA Air Force Headquarters;
• Major A.D. Makallane || International || Netball;
• Captain K.L. Bosch || National || Athletics || SA Air Force Headquarters;
• Flight Sergeant W.F. Kirsten || International and National || Rock and Surf Angling || Air Force Base Overberg.
• Sergeant M. Letsoalo || International Colours as a Team Managers for SA under 19 Cricket TEA Manager || SA Air Force Headquarters and
• Sergeant M.A. Nthako || National || Athletics || Air Force Base Waterkloof.
Best SA Air Force Head Committee Chairperson || Lieutenant Colonel N. Swart for his Administration of Golf.
Best Physical Training Sport and Recreation Base/Unit in the SA Air Force for 2022 || Air Force Base Bloemspruit.
Fittest Base || Air Force Base Bloemspruit;
Air Force Veteran Sports Person of the Year || Warrant Officer Class 2 A.S. Lombaard || Jukskei || Air Force Base Hoedspruit.
SA Air Force Sports Administrator of the Year || Major A.D. Makallane;
The Winner of the SA Air Force Sports Woman of the Year in Team Sports Codes is Corporal N.E. Khumalo from SA Air Force College for her Achievements in Women’s Football.
The Winner of the Lieutenant Bartholomeus Lloyed Floating Trophy for SA Air Force Sports Woman of the Year in Individual Sports Codes is Captain A. Verwey
The Winner of the SA Air Force Sports Man of the Year in Team Sports Codes is Sergeant G. Smith for his Achievements in Rugby.
Sport Man of the Year in Individual Sports Codes is Flight Sergeant W.F.A. Kirsten.