A key imperative of ELBA is to grow and foster the sport and discipline of rowing, by creating awareness for the sport and helping new schools and other institutions start their own rowing clubs. Our focus includes increasing the number of participants in the sport and transformation as part of the development. Rowing Clubs within East London have been an integral part of our Development. RowSA contacted us to arrange a training camp, we expected 30 participants, but landed up with 150 from 6 schools, 3 from Queenstown and 3 from Mthatha. Using equipment from local clubs, we managed to get just under half on the water. Of these 150 only 8 were proficient swimmers, such was their enthusiasm that they would willingly put their lives at risk to row. Four of the most talented rowers were selected to come back for a day’s coaching so they could participate in the Novice & Masters Regatta. We received very positive feedback from the participants.
At the end of the season we issued a challenge to each of the 6 schools from Mthatha & Queentown to find 15 potential rowers that could swim the required 50m. Umtata High School (Now OR Thambo Rowing Club) was the 1st to reach the target and requested to join Buffalo Rowing Club on another training camp, completely separately Nemato also requested to join a Buffalo Rowing Club camp then word spread and ZRC joined the party. After 3 days of rowing we discovered that we could put out largely transformational 8s, that would give our top Eastern Cape rowing schools a run for their money.
Our vision is to see a 2-tiered selection for Eastern Cape Representation. The top being performance only, the 2nd being 80% transformational for all categories above & including J16 to Masters. This season we have seen 2 new clubs start and as a consequence this has helped the other senior clubs grow, 1 school with another in progress.
We live in exciting times for rowing in the Eastern Cape, with much required support we can see this sport grow into the stature it deserves.