The elderly in the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality towns of Thaba Nchu, Botshabelo and Bloemfontein got down to serious competition on Wednesday afternoon as they battled it out for places in Team Mangaung.
This is the team that will represent the region at the Provincial Elderly Games – for those who are 60 and above – to be held in Hoopstad from September 8 to 10.
Should the metro team be successful there, they will represent the Free State province at the national elderly games tournament that will be hosted in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, from September 27 to October 1.
Free State provincial sports, arts and culture director Zola Thamaye was at the Mangaung trials to ensure regulations were not flouted and that only the best elderly athletes were selected.
A health help desk was set up to check on the fitness of the oldies before they could take part in the different sporting codes.
The competing “old timers” first took a general warm-up walk and stretches before taking on their opponents on the tracks.
Sixty-five contestants were from Botshabelo, 62 from Thaba Nchu, while Bloemfontein had 66 representatives at the trials meet.
Kantoor Nkoane, a project manager for the tournament, said the qualifying games were “deliberately open as it should be evident to all that no short cuts involving favouritism and bribery to earn a place in Team Mangaung would be tolerated”.
He said the only sporting code for which no elimination games were conducted was football, since Bloemfontein had no regional challengers in the “beautiful game”.
Nkoane however said in Hoopstad the football team will compete because there will be challengers from other regions.
Apart from football, the oldies will also participate in ball relay, ring the stick, rugby ball throw, passing the ball, duck walk, goal shooting, Jukskei and pegging washing pegs.
Mohotsiwa Mathopa, chairperson of the Mangaung Metro Senior Citizens, hailed the qualifying elimination games as having been “fun, free and fair”, and vowed that Team Mangaung would perform well in Hoopstad.
“Our guys are strong and healthy, and we certainly aim to go all the way,” he said.