There's no question that democracy and sports unification opened many doors for sports people. But it may also have shut a few, says Gary Gabriels (above), principal technical officer in UCT's Division of Pharmacology. Gabriels has been involved in the sports arena long and widely enough to know - he's played and coached and administered volleyball for nigh on two decades, is a former assistant coach to the SA men's volleyball team, was president of the Western Province Volleyball Union (WPVU) until last year, and served as manager of the SA volleyball team that competed in the 2001 World Student Games in Beijing, China. (He was also a volunteer at the Athens Olympics this year, and oiled the wheels for the return of the UCT Volleyball Club, once under threat of extinction, into the provincial fold recently.) When sporting structures merged in the early 1990s, many sports players were left stranded, Gabriels points out. On a practical level, he explains, it was easy for individuals and teams in the pre-unification years to get to community sporting venues that, if not always of the best, were at least within easy reach. New rivals, by and large based in neighbourhoods further afield, are not. "There were obviously those that decided it wasn't worth the effort to travel that distance to play." The problem persists. Clubs like those at UCT, Gabriels believes, can play a huge role in addressing some of these issues.
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