Kloppers delivered some of the best Sacos athletes in trying circumstances


This is the second chapter of a two-part series about sportsman, coach and academic Winston Kloppers (Read part one here).

SMALL Boy, Adam Vinoos and the former Sacos president Joe Ebrahim attended school with Kloppers at Trafalgar in Std 7 (grade 9) and 8 (grade 10) in the 1950’s. He remembers the principal being Jewish, a Mr Meltzer, as he was known to the students.

He remembers the schoolboy sprinters Stafford Wilton (Sinton), Stanley Holt and Leonard Patensie.

Winston Kloppers, 77, kept a low profile in producing high profile athletes in a long coaching career.

Kloppers was the captain of the school athletics team for two successive years (Std’s 9 and 10).

The stand out athlete of Trafalgar and South Africa at the time was Cecil Blows and, in the words of Robin April, a ‘sprinter of Olympic quality’.

Lightning Smith

Blows was a big boy, he ran tall and was respected off and on the track,” says Kloppers.

The PT teacher and athletics coach at the school was Lightning Smith who was also a recognised wrestler at the time. Local wrestlers pitted their skills in the Woodstock Town Hall.

Although Kloppers played lock for Hewat and Callies, hockey for Queens Park and Belmont, it was in athletics where he made the greatest impact as coach and official.

He represented the City and Suburban Rugby Football Union at lock in 1966 and played in the same position for the Northerns Rugby Union.

Kloppers had coached sprinters Sedick Kalam, Phaldie Kalam, and Henry Davids in the late 1960’s while they were at Trafalgar High School and club by the same name. Kloppers was a member of the Trafalgar Amateur Athletic Club. He briefly coached Herman Gibbs.

Winston Kloppers played rugby at a high level in 1966 and was the Hewat Training College 440 yards champion in 1965.

He worked with the pioneer of high schools’ athletics Richard Rive and introduced the number system in 1969 while still a young teacher at Trafalgar High School.

After sowing the seeds of organisational athletics at Trafalgar, Kloppers traversed the Peninsula and cemented the sport of athletics at a number of primary and high schools.

Southern suburbs

The collapse of District Six because of the Group Areas Act in the 1950’s saw Kloppers move to the southern suburbs where, today, there is still no decent athletics track, costing schools a fortune to cart their athletes to meetings at the other end of the city.

He subsequently joined the South Peninsula Amateur Athletic Club where he had a hand in coaching provincial sprinters Terrence Smith, Oswald George and Lincoln Bernardo. He was a teacher to George at Wesley School in Salt River.

In later years, he coached Stuart Sassman of Heathfield High School.

Freddie Williams was at the club, too. He was a very motivated athlete. The majority of the athletes attended Heathfield High School. Freddie used to organise the athletes for the trip in my panel van to Rhodes Memorial for training,” says Kloppers.

The’ SP twins’ Lincoln Bernado and Oswald George.

And towards the end of his career, Kloppers had coached Francois Cleophas of Wynberg High School and the South Peninsula Amateur Athletics Club to a South African Amateur Athletics Board (SAAAB) junior men’s 400m record of 48,9 seconds.

Kloppers was a teacher for nearly 20 years after which he joined the sports department of the University of the Western Cape as deputy sports director in 1984.

Gus Jacobs

The head of the department since 1974 was Gus Jacobs (formerly Hewat). Jacobs had taken over from Norman Stoffberg at Hewat as head of the department there – another top class athlete in the 1940’s and a member of the Achilles Amateur Athletic Club in District Six.

(Achilles won the Andrewena Cup several times before and after World War Two).

The plum sports job was fitting for Kloppers who had by then served in numerous capacities in the different codes of sports – more so in athletics.

He was a co-founder of the Grassy Park Amateur Athletic Club in 1982, and, prior to the establishment of the club, was sports secretary of the Western Province Amateur and Cycling Association and executive member of Sacos Western Province.

He served the South African Rugby Union and the South African Amateur Athletic and Cycling Board of Control on the technical and coaching committees.

Kloppers’ Stuart Sassman of Heathfield High and SP club, far left, turned out to be another gem in the sprints.

Coaching and serving as an official became less important for Kloppers who migrated to the academia at UWC.

UWC athletics club

Kloppers has a story to tell, though, before his retirement in 2003.

“I was the first official coach of the newly-established UWC athletics club in 1975. (He was also the official starter in 1975, having taken over the duties from Eddie May.) Gus Jacobs employed me and paid me an honorarium of R70 annually in 1975 and 1976. The co-founders were Aldridge Jacobs, a middle-distance runner and qualified medical doctor [UCT] from Port Elizabeth, Vernon Seymour and two brothers from Pacaltsdorp near George.

As a physical teacher Winston Kloppers led from the front.

His working career at UWC saw him presenting papers, position papers at conferences and publishing.  In 1986, Kloppers brought out a 207-page publication titled School Athletics, a practical guide to organisation and officiating. This publication was followed up by a book with an ISBN number titled School Athletics – a manual on the organisation and administration of athletics.

Coaching courses abroad

His area of research included physical education.

There is so much to write about Winston Kloppers, including coaching courses abroad, a semester at Stanford University, co-founder of the athletics technical committee in 1976, scholarships including a British Council scholarship and nearly 20 published journal articles, position papers and presentations.

He is married to Elizabeth Möller, a retired school teacher.

They have two children Tanya, who works in finance in England, and Jean-Paul who graduated with a master’s degree in philosophy cum laude.

One thought on “Kloppers delivered some of the best Sacos athletes in trying circumstances

  • August 30, 2018 at 9:21 am

    Dear Mr Publisher,

    Keep up the good work. Question: Who is going to continue your website when you are no longer around?


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