Every year we sit down and say its time to reflect.
Phew! There just doesn’t seem to be time to reflect in a year that has passed us by in a blur. It seems that I could muster a “blow by blow” account of 2008 without even breaking into a sweat.
From a personal point of view, my highlight was being present at my eldest daughter, Sarah’s, graduation where she was awarded honours for Marketing Management making her a BSC “Cum Laude” to boot!
On a par was the success of the Paralympic Team in Beijing. For those who know me, this is what I dreamed of and actually forecast in 1993. The world is now your oyster, go find it!
Since Beijing, I have been at work securing partners for 2012 and am happy to report that the job of concluding contracts is almost complete. We will be making a really special announcement in the first half of 2009 so watch this space!
In terms of my day job, my responsibility involved overseeing the Nedbank Soweto Marathon which attracted a field in excess of 11 000 runners in all distances. This was the largest field ever assembled and the organisers will surely have to relocate the start and finish to a larger venue in the future. The people of Soweto come out in droves to support those who choose to pound the tar and it really is a spectacle to behold, an event that should, in time, become an African showcase! The unique marathon route passes many historic and relevant sights and locations including ‘Vilakazi Street which is surely the world’s only street that can boast the residences of two Nobel laureates (Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela). From there the route moves on to the Hector Peterson Memorial and the Morris Isaacson High School. It’s really very special!
My next assignment in a very privileged job was overseeing The Nedbank Golf Challenge from a Nedbank perspective. This iconic event must surely rank as South Africa’s flagship sporting event and goes far further than a classic sponsorship. The Challenge is broadcast to more than fifty countries and attracts visitors from all parts of South Africa and the world at large - not to mention the world class golfers who still queue to play in this end-of-the-year tourney.
Every once in a while a sports person hits a “red-hot’ streak in their career. Unfortunately for the balance of the field, Sweden’s Henrik Stenson (recent winner of the World Cup of Golf with compatriot Robert Karlsson) chose to produce his finest at this year’s event. He was unstoppable, carding a minus 21 that being the third lowest score ever recorded in the history of the Nedbank Golf Challenge.
The highlight of the week was when, despite the looming world recession, Nedbank’s CEO, Tom Boardman, together with host Sun International’s CEO, David Coutts Trotter, renewed their vows for a further three years. This really came as a welcome gesture in a time of much uncertainty for the outlook of the sports sponsorship world for the foreseeable future. In his announcement, Boardman alluded to the good shape of the South African Financial sector when compared to the rest of the globe and the fact that this was South Africa’s “major” which played a far greater role than a regular golf tournament.
I had the privilege of chatting to a few of the players who simply could not find enough compliments for all those involved with the superb organization of the event. Without name dropping (Nelson Mandela told me never to!) I had a chat with both Sky News anchorman, Jeremy Thompson, who is a stalwart at the event and Jim Kelly, the Internationally acclaimed American golf commentator, who was here for his second stint. Both were just so complimentary and positive of the tournament and South African hospitality, it was really a tonic to listen to. Sergio Garcia’s pilot (Tom) was no different, saying this had become his favourite destination and when you get to see where he gets to go, that is a huge compliment indeed.
On the Sunday, I had the honour of hosting Paralympic Superstar and Nedbank Brand Ambassador, Oscar Pistorius, who the crowds absolutely adore and remain happy to queue for his autograph. I am never sure if this “young turk” will ever realise just how much he and others have raised the bar but I am sure that he deserves every good thing that continues to come his way! In the world of sport for the disabled Oscar is achieving in individual sponsorship as Tiger Woods has done in golf – all be it on a far greater scale. Go you good thing!
Back from the Nedbank Golf Challenge, a day in the office and as I write this, my final paragraph for this great magazine at the close of an exciting 2008, I hear my great wife, Eileen, shouting “our ride is here” which reminds me that we are off to Australia for a quick eight-day visit to some great friends who live in Perth, and then it’s back to this great country to recharge the batteries.
I wish you all a very safe and happy 2009.