The Jack Cheetham and Letsema Awards will this year commemorate 35 years of making a difference to sports
development projects.

The Jack Cheetham memorial award was instituted in 1981, in recognition of Jack Cheetham, a Murray & Roberts director who played on the South African cricket team from 1949 to 1955, and was captain for 15 of his 24 test matches. During his firstclass career Jack scored 5 697 runs and after his retirement from the game, worked tirelessly to promote cricket in disadvantaged communities.

Author and journalist Rodney Hartman was quoted as saying, “Cheetham, the archetype gentleman, embodied the best virtues of sportsmanship and human endeavour, and was always held up as the ideal kind of man to captain his country.” It is this spirit that the award embodies.

Dr J.D. Roberts, non-executive director at Murray & Roberts at the time, proposed to Bill Emmett, President of the Johannesburg Sportsman’s Club that an annual award be made to an individual who had made a difference in promoting non-racial sport in South Africa. A cash prize of R5 000 was proposed, to be divided between the winner and their particular sporting project. A floating trophy, “at a cost of no more than R250” was also suggested. This same trophy is still presented at the awards evening 35 years later. Some of the early winners included Danie Craven, Ali Bacher and Steve Tshwete.

In 2002, the award evolved with a new partnership between Murray & Roberts and the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC). SASCOC is South Africa’s national multi-code sporting body which administers South Africa’s national sporting federations as well as facilitates the preparation of teams to major multi-code sporting events such as the Olympic Games, Paralympic Games and Commonwealth Games. The Jack Cheetham Award now targeted sports development projects that could develop individuals and teams that had potential to compete at a high-performance level.

That year, Rowing South Africa won the Jack Cheetham Award. Their schools transformation programme had a number of success stories including Sizwe Ndlovu. Sizwe, James Thompson, John Smith and Matthew Brittain were the members of the South African lightweight fours Olympic rowing team that won a gold medal in the 2012 Summer Olympics. It was South Africa’s first Olympic gold medal for rowing and evidence of the impact that the award had on development projects and athletes.

In 2009 the award evolved again. Inspired by the performance of Hilton Langenhoven at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Murray & Roberts established the Letsema Award. The Letsema Award recognised sports development projects for people with disability. The first official recipient of the award was Judo for the Blind and Visually Impaired and was followed in 2010 by Boccia for the Severely Physically Disabled.

The recipients of the awards have inspired us with their stories of determination and perseverance. Recent highlights include Chaeli Mycroft from the Chaeli Campaign, winners of the 2011 Letsema Award, who summited Kilimanjaro with the Chaeli Kili Climbers and became the first female quadriplegic to summit the mountain.

Four players from Wheelchair Tennis South Africa, winners of the 2015 Letsema Award, have qualified for the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games tennis event. They are Lucas Sithole, Kgothatso Montjane, Evans Maripa and Leon Els. South African wheelchair tennis junior, Nokwanda Hlongwane was named the LSEN School Female Athlete of the Year at the Gauteng School Sport Awards.

"This contract award sees this investment come to fruition, and reinforces Clough’s capability to work across the asset life-cycle while building upon our established brownfields engineering credentials."
Peter Bennett, Clough’s Chief Executive Officer

Waves 4 Change, winners of the 2015 Jack Cheetham Award, has 250 development surfers from the Khayelitsha and Masiphumelele Townships. The Khayelitsha chapter has since become the largest surf therapy programme since the its inception. Fulton School for the Deaf Triathlon Club, runners up of the 2015 Letsema Award, have three learners who were selected to be part of the South Africa team taking part in the 2017 Deaf Sports Federation Games. They are Fezeka Zeka, Wongi Mlambo and Latifah Jooma.


South Africa has three wheelchair tennis players ranked in the top 16 in the world?.