Prof Noakes who has been a fantastic supporter of the Ikey Tigers and is still instrumental in their success has sent us this bit of great news, which he feels is a milestone for UCT sport. A fundamental change in vision and emphasis sport at the University is no longer a low priority item. Prof is also convinced that the great performances of the Ikey Tigers may just have been the tipping point in this change of vision.
Prof Noakes writes:
Dear Ikey Tigers,
You may be aware that on Saturday August 1st about 30 members of the UCT community met to discuss the future of sport at UCT. As now reported in the Monday Paper, the overwhelming conclusion was that sport at UCT is now ready for a fundamental change in both vision and emphasis. As a result a new Vision and Mission Statement for UCT sport is to be drawn up. The most important change is the acceptance that sport is too important for the welfare of both the students and the University to continue as a low priority item. One senior and influential staff member said that it was as if she had been walking around UCT for the past decade with one eye closed to the importance of sport. Now she really did understand just how important it is for both students and the University to give the correct priority to sport. An important part of the change in mindset was the insistence of the students themselves that excellence is what they expect in all aspects of their education at UCT, not just in the class room.
So an important part of this change in mindset is the acceptance that the striving for sporting excellence is no longer negotiable. There is also the realization that there is much under-utilized expertise that needs to be co-ordinated to assist in broadening and advancing sporting excellence (as well as participation) at UCT.
As someone who has been around UCT for 40 years, I cannot emphasize what a major achievement this has been. Properly implemented, this could be one of the defining achievements in UCT’s recent past.
Whilst there are many who have toiled over the years to sustain some measure of sporting excellence at UCT, I believe that history will show it was the performance of the Ikey Tigers in the Varsity Cup in 2008 and 2009, that was the defining event that allowed this new approach to sport to be accepted so readily by the UCT community. Without those performances I do not believe that this defining moment would have been achieved in UCT sport.
To all the young men at all levels of the UCT Rugby Club who made this possible, to coach John Dobson and his support team, and to the elders who oversee the Club, thank you all for what you have made possible. Only in time will we all understand the true importance of the legacy that you have fashioned through your own personal commitments to excellence.
Your goal must now be to play even better rugby in the future, to lift the Varsity Cup in 2010 and to go to even greater heights thereafter as the club becomes one of the great sporting institutions of South Africa.
This lead will encourage other sports at UCT also to take the high road to excellence. And as the number of excellent clubs at UCT begins to grow, so success will be re-inforced and the entire sporting enterprise at UCT will become ever stronger.
I have no doubt that UCT has the students and the expertise (currently untapped) to achieve future sporting heights that none of us in 2009 can currently conceive as remotely possible.
In 2008 no one in sport at UCT (or even in the UCT Rugby Club) believed in miracles.
But the 2008/2009 Ikey Tigers showed us that miracles can be achieved if we are able to unlock the extraordinary physical and intellectual talents that are present on the UCT campus (and in those who have an interest in the welfare of sport at UCT).
In the words of Winston Churchill (if you were born after 1980 you might need to check who he was on Wikipedia!): This is not the end; nor is it even the beginning of the end. But it is the end of the beginning.
Take pride in what you have contributed to the evolution of sport and UCT. But know that more will be required of all of us in the future.
With very warmest regards and congratulations,
Prof Tim Noakes