IT might not be one of the “Big Three” (soccer, rugby and cricket), but speed skating has taken off in Motherwell.
The Motherwell Rollers will be competing against skaters from around the country and the world at the SA Open Championships at Sun City later this month.
The Rollers are coached by Eastern Cape Roller Skating Committee vicechairman Marianne Terblanche, who is also a senior librarian at the Motherwell Library.
She and chairperson Desiree Nel founded the Motherwell Rollers in 2003 and, along with the city-based Phoenix Roller Skate Club, have helped a number of Motherwell children get national colours in speed skating.
Terblanche said they chose Motherwell because they wanted to uplift the community.
“Since I work in Motherwell I could see the kids had nothing in the area. We did not want them to become involved in criminal activities and alcohol.
“Originally the plan was to give them something to do, but we also want them to make friends – I have also made friends at these competitions.”
She said Motherwell Rollers member Sandile Payi, 19, who got his Protea colours in 2010, had travelled to Germany, Austria and Belgium, and won a silver medal in Hungary last year.
Member Vusikhaya Stali had gone on an administrative course in Cape Town to learn how to run a club.
Stali, 19, encouraged others to take up speed skating.
“I learnt how to run a club and manage athletes. I also got to travel. Marianne is helping us with a lot of things, even with our school work,” he said. “We work as a family.”
Terblanche said categories at the SA Open Championships ranged from under-13 to over-35.
“We want to take about 18 skaters to the championships, but it will depend on sponsors,” Terblanche said.
She said it cost each competitor about R2500 for transport, food and accommodation at the competition.
Motherwell Rollers is made up of about 100 skaters.
“We would love to get a track to practise on – currently we skate around the Motherwell Centre. It is not ideal but it is better than nothing.
The team trains on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and sometimes on Sundays from 5pm to 6.30pm.