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1994 - Mr Major’s Speech at Alexandra Township Cricket Ground

Below is the text of Mr Major’s speech at the Alexandra Township Cricket Ground in South Africa, on Wednesday 21st September 1994.


PRIME MINISTER:

Can I just say firstly that I have heard a lot about the Alexandra Oval, I have heard a lot about the project to develop it to provide some sport adjacent to the township for all these youngsters and many more but seeing it here today is a very remarkable experience; it brings home in a very direct way the extent to which sport can contribute to producing not only the sporting stars of the future but an immense pleasure not just for youth but for life.

I have never made any secret of the fact that I am a sports nut, I have been since I was the same age as those youngsters over there and if they have the same pleasure in the long term of playing sport and watching sport that I have had, then they will be very lucky youngsters indeed. Looking round here today, I think the resources, the money we were able to find, to help this Alexandra Oval was well spent.

What I have to do formally in a moment is open the-nets but firstly let me just say a word about an initiative.that we are proposing which I hope will be of continuing benefit to this township. We propose to establish an initiative so that on a continuing basis there will be proper coaching in Sport and proper equipment in sport to enable the people here to continue to play and learn to play the game to a very high standard.

I have just spent a few moments watching the youngsters in the nets, watching some hurdlers over there, watching some young rugby players aged six trying to bring down Rob Andrew and watching Bobby Charlton explain to people the finer points of soccer and what is absolutely clear to me watching those boys and watching those girls is the opportunity that sport has,

Bobby, I think, is still over there training but perhaps I might use his experience to indicate to the youngsters what might happen. As a result of his soccer skills, Bobby and his brother have travelled all round the world, they have made friends all round the world and they have become an example and in many cases an inspiration to people all over the world. That is equally true of the other sporting stars I have brought with me: Judy Simpson, Alec Stewart, Rob Andrew and Alec is here and has been showing you precisely how he scores quite so many runs for England so don't learn too well, South Africa did quite well enough in the test series a few weeks ago!

The opportunity you have is that one day you might be here teaching other people the finer points of the sports that you take up, playing for your country, travelling round the world like Alec and his colleagues do and changing for the good the relationship that South Africa has with the world and that you have with other people.

People sometimes tend to push sport to one side as though it is almost an occasional add-on extra to the good things of life. don't agree with that at all. I think it is an essential ingredient to the good things of life and I am delighted that we have been able to assist in some small way in providing coaching, providing equipment to bring this Alexandra Oval to life.

I saw pictures of it some time ago. It wasn't a cricket ground then fit for the England A to come and play in and use the nets, it was a rubbish pit full of filth, old tin cans, rocks and generally a disagreeable aspect. Now it is somewhere where people can come from the township, come and have cricket coaching, come and play and learn to love the game so I am delighted to be here today, delighted to have been able to play a small part in bringing this about and ensuring that there will be further assistance in the future in terms of equipment and in terms of coaching.

I have one small formality to perform this morning and that is to open these splendid nets. I have been watching a number of you bat and I think, having watched you bat, I have every reason to worry about how good you will be in just a few years time but it seems to me to provide what is necessary, not only the facility but a batting wicket on which you can trust yourself to play forward shots, trust yourself to play back-shots and trust yourself to play cricket properly so I hope you will enjoy it both in the short term and the long term and I am delighted to declare it open though already the best way of declaring it open is to do what you have been doing, to play in it, and I hope you will do it for many years to come. [Applause].