Msunduzi: The capital city of major sporting events

Although Msunduzi continues to face a number of socio-economic challenges like unemployment but it remains the capital city of sports when it comes to hosting major events across all sports codes and producing world class, professional sports stars.

Since time immemorial, history has shown that Msunduzi has played host to various events – including the ones that are not so prevalent amongst the black population.

One of the flagship events and one that is the longest running event in the city is the Comrades Marathon, which has been hosted for almost a century, having first taken place in 1921. The start and finish lines of the greatest race of human kind alternates between the cities of Durban and Pietermaritzburg every year.

Because of its physical and mental demands on the participants, global reach and popularity, the race attracts athletes not only from the continent of Africa but also the world over.

Another major event that has its roots in Msunduzi is the world renowned Amashovashova, which is a gruelling cycle event that also links the capital city with Durban. Having started in 1986, it takes place annually during the month of October and unlike the Comrades Marathon, this one does not alternate the start and finish lines between the two cities.

During the busy December holidays and upon the return of many residents from vacations in January, there is always a buzz of activity in Pietermaritzburg as this period signifies the start of the Duzi Canoe Marathon, which kicks off at Camps Drift in the Msunduzi River and ends in the Mngeni River in Durban. This is again another major event that renders the two cities inseparable. The Provincial Department of Sports & Recreation does not need to be quizzed on how they feel about these major events that continue to put not just these cities but also the KwaZulu-Natal province on the global map as it has continually supported these drawcards over many years.

History was made in 2003 when the Pietermaritzburg Oval hosted the Cricket World Cup and the Proteas played Kenya and Zimbabwe. Ultimately, Australia played and beat India in the epic final.

The list of global sporting events that are hosted in Msunduzi is long and the BMX Racing World Championship, which was hosted in 2010, is yet another one.

One major sporting event that is synonymous with swimming and Pietermaritzburg is the Midmar Mile that takes place in February and hosts the Open Water Swimming event that has more than 16 000 entrants that also include international participants.

When we talk about major sporting venues in Pietermaritzburg, the Harry Gwala Stadium has to be on top of that list. As you may know, it was named after the local struggle icon Harry Gwala and is the home ground for Maritzburg United, which plies its trade in South Africa’s Premier Soccer League [PSL].

The list of soccer legends that are from Msunduzi is a long one as so many of them have played in both the PSL and the National First Division [NFD].

By SABELO MAPHUMULO