MURIEL ABRAHAMS – THE ULTIMATE BACKROOM ORGANISER
MURIEL Abrahams did not play sport. Nor was she a sports administrator. But for 16 years she was a vital cog in the running of one of the biggest sports organisations in the country: the Western Province Senior Schools Sports Union.
She wasn’t a teacher either. ‘My work with the union started in 1981 when I successfully applied for a job with them as a clerk/administrator,’ she says.
They needed someone in their office to help lighten the workload of the convenors of the various codes. They had a massive workload and had to do all their sports administration after hours – for no extra pay.’
‘At least I was getting paid for my work.’
The union catered for the sporting needs of about 100 schools in codes ranging from athletics to baseball, from cricket to netball, and from football to rugby, and more.
A typical day in her life in the office of the union revolved around typing fixtures, distributing them and then contacting principals and teachers to ensure that they had received the correspondence.
‘My busiest time was during the inter-schools’ athletics meetings,’ she says
‘There were no computers when I started,’ she adds. ‘I used a typewriter, after which I ran off the correspondence and other documents on a Roneo machine. These could often be messy.
But hers was a job, says Abrahams, she would not have swapped for anything else. ‘There was always something different to do, and I especially liked communicating with teachers.
‘It also enabled me to view sport – certainly at schools’ level – from a unique angle. ‘One of my other duties was to organise transport for the big inter-schools’ meetings – and in my 16 years in this job, we never had an accident.
‘We were one big family. Officials such as the late Philip Tobias and the late Peter Meyer were unsung heroes. They did everything for the union voluntarily,’ she says.
‘You don’t see this type of commitment today. Teachers seem unable to organise sports in the various levels as they used. It’s a pity that the level of schools’ sports has dropped so appreciably.’
Abrahams says ‘things changed’ when the National Sports Congress replaced SACOS – and it was around this time that she decided to ‘get out’.
She still maintains a keen interest in sport but prefers watching it on TV. She says she will be watching the Rugby World Cup later this month, and she’ll be rooting for her favourite team, the All Blacks.