It is not often that sports are given much attention when discussing the history of a country or city. But, when it comes to South End, sports played such a vital role in the lives of almost every member of the community that it simply cannot be overlooked. It provided a way for people to connect, to reach out and to achieve. It provided a means for families and friends to interact and bond. Even if a person did not play sports, they usually had one or two family members who did. Supporting that family member in their chosen sport was a way of life and sport permeated family life in a way that is not often found in other parts of the country or the world.
South End was home to a number of excellent sportsmen and women. The facilities available to them often ranged from rudimentary to non-existent. Yet, this did not diminish their zeal for their chosen sport. The sporting community of South End was multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-faceted. The people living here engaged in activities such as cricket, rugby, soccer, weightlifting and bodybuilding, swimming, lifesaving, softball, baseball, tennis, netball and hockey. Blacks, coloureds, Indians and whites worked together to further the sport without focusing on racial issues before the regime. People were proud to achieve whatever they could in their chosen sport and, if they were able to become particularly successful, they later passed their knowledge and skills on by helping to develop those that later followed in their footsteps. Photographs in the sports exhibition of the South End Museum boast the same sportsmen reappearing – usually starting off as aspiring young sportsmen and ending their career off older and more distinguished as a coach, sporting official or in some other assistant capacity. In this way, the South End way of life filtered through into sports, as giving back and helping others was very much a part of everyday life in South End.
Further exploration of the exhibit will reveal more about the sports and the teams in existence then, as well as the sportsmen and women that were so passionate about their chosen sports prior to the 1970’s. There are interesting snippets of information, such as a discussion involving the length of the women’s hockey team skirts, which often amuses visitors to the museum. However, as you continue to make your way around this rather large exhibit, you will likely come to realise just how important sports were to the people of South End and Port Elizabeth. Their dreams and passions were played out on the sports fields of South End, Salisbury Park, Fairview, Korsten, New Brighton and other self-made sporting arenas. In some instances, they were fortunate enough to leave the country and gain true recognition for their talent. Such was the case with Basil D’ Oliveira, Cecil February and Ron Eland, who was the first coloured South African to participate in the Olympics, where he represented Great Britain.
You will also learn about the unsung heroes of sport that lived at a time when their skill and talent were unrecognised by those who had the power help them reach the pinnacle of success. The Sports Wall of Fame helps you to become better acquainted with individuals such as Fareed Abrahams, Marie Jones, S. ‘Bulla’ Reddy and Milo Pillay, as well as many others who, undoubtedly, had what it took to climb to the top of their sport if they had only been given the chance. Interesting sporting artefacts, such as dumbbells and cricket pads, give the exhibit a wonderful air of authenticity while an abundance of photos provide proof of what once was.