A jubilant Andre Rademan was surrounded by excited supporters after he won a hotly contested four-horse election battle to become the new president of the cashstrapped EP Rugby Union at the weekend.
Rademan replaced Cheeky Watson, who resigned after eight years in the hot seat which saw the troubled union placed under administration.
The first thing Rademan did was promise Eastern Cape rugby lovers that he would bring the game back to the people and make them proud of the union.
After Rademan was declared the winner on Saturday, there was a loud cheer from a hall packed with clubs who clearly approved of the new man at the helm.
The others nominated for president were George Malgas, Tony McKeever and Stag Mitchell.
The new deputy president of the union is Bantwini Matika and Chico February will fill the role of vice-president.
“The first thing we would like to do is to address the liquidation problem and secondly to engage role-players,” Rademan said.
“I’m talking about the mayor, Athol Trollip, SA Rugby, the Minister of Sport and the MEC. Not necessarily in that sequence, but we would like to speak to them and sit around a table.
“Then the big work starts to clear up a lot of problems and redesigning the new EP, if I may put it that way.
“This is not just a thing about me and my committee. This is a thing for the community. If we are going to fix EP Rugby then the community must stand together.
“We love the game, that is why I made myself available. We want to get the stadium full and bring the pride back to EP Rugby.
“That is going to be hard. We are under no illusions, we know that there is hard work ahead.
“The people who have been elected can do it and we are going to do it. That is our message to the public.”
Rademan said he would embrace all rugby lovers.
“I am not a person who believes in divide and rule. I want to embrace everyone.
“You are either for me and for what I stand, but do not come with agendas.
“I have nothing against those people who stood against me. We had an election and it was a clean one. I can’t remember anyone talking badly about another candidate.
“If people want to stand with me to improve rugby and serve the game then they are more than welcome. They must remember there are going to be many changes in EP Rugby.”
Rademan said work would start immediately to put EP Rugby back on track.
“We have been voted in and they did not give us a mandate, but a responsibility and we realise that,” he said.
“I was positive that we were going to win and we put together a very good team. We rode over 4 000km to see the clubs.”
Rademan said the new committee was voted in to serve the people.
“In South Africa, we have got to the stage where people are elected and they are served. It should be the other way around. That is what this committee wants to do.”
Rademan said he had been heartened by the response of clubs when it was announced that he had won the election.
“When I looked around me and saw the people clapping, that made me certain we are on the right track. It looked like an outright majority,” he said.
The new EP executive committee is:
President: Andre Rademan
Deputy president: Bantwini Matika
Vice-president: Chico February.
Additional members: Willie Blunden, Cannon Maasdorp, Makhaya Jack and Shaheed Patel