You would be forgiven for thinking that the sporting spotlight has only recently shone on rowing since Shaun Keeling and Lawrence Brittain won a silver medal at the Olympics this year in Brazil. The reality is that the sport has been steadily growing over the last six years in South Africa for a variety or reasons. While the most recent (and 2012) Olympic achievements raised the profile of the sport massively, the on-going development of rowing is thanks to the people and organisations that have committed themselves for the long run of improving the sport in the country.

Once such person is Virginia Maboso, the Development Officer for RowingSA. Her mission is is to spread rowing to all nine provinces and  52 districts in the country and she is ahead of schedule. Currently there are clubs in every province and coaches from the community have been employed and trained to be part of the programme. Supported by Rand Merchant Bank (RMB), National Squad and the Team Powerhouse Trust (TPT), the sport is growing rapidly and continues to gain popularity.

The first rowing gold medal for South Africa came during the London Olympics of 2012 from the men’s lightweight four of Sizwe Ndlovu, John Smith, Mathew Brittain and James Thompson. That gave the sport a massive boost in terms of recognition and popularity through out the country. Sizwe Ndlovu is actively involved with Virginia’s initiative and is an inspirational leader for the children who partake in the programme.

Watch the video below to see how Virginia Maboso, Sizwe Ndlovu, RMB and many others are changing lives and rowing in SA.

RMB, in particular the CIB division, partnered with RowingSA earlier this year to promote the concept of #thinking #pulling #together as the best way to achieve success. They consistently support the rowing community by contributing to the efforts of Virginia and helped produce the film above. The TPT was setup to ensure that the national teams receive funding to operate throughout the year as the sport relies heavily on funds from former rowers, commercial sponsorships and other benefactors.

CN&CO has been handling the PR for the most recent medalists, Shaun and Lawrence, providing speaking opportunities for the pair to share their inspirational story not only at the Olympic games but also the behind-the-scenes efforts over the last eight years. To date, the pair have spoken to a variety of audiences from large scale auditoriums accommodating 2000 people to smaller, intimate groups consisting of 20 people. The duo’s story of dedication, perseverance and triumph over adversity has resonated with the audiences every time as it is truly inspiring.

The power of sport can never be underestimated and CN&CO’s newest addition, Blake Dyason, believes strongly in harnessing that power to do good. As one of the members of Love Our Trails, Blake campaigns tirelessly to promote the impact of running on the environment and spreading the concept of #runclean to make a positive difference. His most recent efforts at making a difference were in conjunction with 5fm and the controversial red balloon release. Carel Nolte has raised the highest charity donations for Comrades Race 4 Charity two years in a row, with the PinkDrive receiving over R300 000.00 from his efforts. The money goes a long way to help PinkDrive’s crusade against cancer. Earlier this year Rob Christian and the rest of the MAD2Run team raised over R500 000 when they ran down to Cape Town for the cause of educating future leaders through the Make A Difference Leadership Foundation.

There are many ways to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others and perhaps sport is so readily understood in that regard because it requires people to push themselves further and harder than they normally would. Add in the motivation of pushing yourself for the betterment of others, and it seems to be an unstoppable force to do good and bring about meaningful change in this country.