By: Bob Norris (BKCOB Sports Committee Chair)
Tourism takes on many guises, but few are, by nature, as intense as it can be in the realm of sport.
The Border-Kei region in general has produced so many fine sports women and men and continues to do so, and it is common cause that if a region produces sporting icons it will attract others from further afield.
Success stories of today have been built upon a proud sporting history.
East London in particular has hosted some outstanding events down the years, inclusive of the superb Grand Prix motors race, which attracted World Champions.
Fantastic rugby, cricket and soccer with some giant killing Border performances has inspired the youth for decades.
Swimming, surfing, paddling, yachting and surf lifesaving have produced household names.
Tennis and boxing provided some of the most outstanding competitions and athletes, as has cross country running and of course the Buffalo Regatta, pride of the Buffalo River.
Two world half marathon records, still the fastest on African soil were recorded on the Esplanade course in 1987 and 1991. The Buffs Marathon, and the Discovery Surfers Challenge, amongst others, have attracted folk from all corners of Southern Africa and beyond.
Golf courses have charm and history, the many hockey astro turf stadia produce international players, while a thriving netball is still requires a permanent home.
The Buffalo City 70.3 Ironman event is well established and affords much publicity internationally.
Border badminton is alive and well, with a superb facility, while squash remains strong and attracts tournaments to the city.
A new world phenomenon is parkrun, established in the United Kingdom. Simple, free to all who can walk or run attracts thousands of tourists.
East London opened the 4th South African parkrun at Nahoon Point in August 2011. There are now 9 in the BKCOB region.
Buffalo City have had good sporting facilities over the years and has the potential to re-establish such again. It will however take the will of the leadership for this to happen.
The Jan Smuts Athletic Stadium has succumbed to vandalism. The rugby stadium, which has undergone many name changes is in jeopardy, as indeed is the future of the code itself.
The Phillip Kahts Softball Stadium suffered a similar fate.
The Joan Harrison swimming pool is an outstanding asset, but requires upgrades and a better understanding of the revenue it can and does generate for the city. The many water polo and swimming events that take place in the city fills accommodation and eateries.
Siza Dukashe Stadium in Mdantsane has been closed to various sporting codes and is available only to one soccer club. It is a travesty for youth development and recreation in the suburb.
While rugby may be in the doldrums provincially the inaugural Buffalo City 10s tournament at Grens was a huge success as was a similar event in Komani.
Not lost on the South African sporting fraternity is the fact that players the likes of Lukhanyo Am and Masixole Mapimpi who together produced that splendid try to thrash England in the World Cup final, both hail from this area.
A survey conducted a few years ago suggested that the two biggest money spinners in sports tourism are motor racing and fishing, but they are not alone and other codes, not mentioned, attract visitors.
Buffalo City is blessed with a fine climate, beautiful beaches, a competitive population and the possibilities are endless.
Together we can get done.