The Border Icons in Sport (BIS) awards, held on November 4, paid homage to the incremental progress made in the region, while highlighting ongoing challenges faced in sports including women’s hockey.
The Chairmen’s Award was bestowed on eight former players and administrators, one of whom was the first woman of colour from Border to be selected to SA Women’s hockey structures, Marilyn Sass nee Hykes.
Hykes Sass grew up in Komani in a sporting family and lived with the knowledge that achieving on the national stage was challenged not only by a race-based exclusionary administration but also by a dearth of facilities in formerly classified township areas.
Despite this she took every opportunity she could at school and club level and trained incessantly for selection to Border.
Thereafter her talent and tenacity took her to the SASSSV hockey structures.
However, given the racially exclusionary dynamics of the day, her contribution has not been valued.
BIS bestowed the chair’s award on her to ensure her legacy is recorded.
Hykes Sass said: “This means a lot as we finally get the recognition for our contribution, having been deprived of it in the apartheid era.
“As a young, coloured girl from humble beginnings, being selected to play for SA was a great honour for me.
“This province was extremely rich with sporting talents who could have gone far in life if it was not for apartheid.”
Since Hykes Sass, Border has made significant progress, with many women of colour achieving nationally including Kaylin Hendricks who was also rewarded by BIS to honour her selection to the U18 SA side.
Fellow award winner John Bennet said hockey players from previously disadvantaged areas continue to have limited access to facilities and have to raise funds for transport.
By Tammy Fray