The death last week of Wally Voges at the age of 83 marked the lowering of the curtain on a golden era in South African and Western Province water polo and swimming. During his time, including the period of isolation, the sport saw impressive advances, particularly in schools.
Voges was a great advocate for the game not only as a way to popularise and modernise the sport, but also as a means of providing young boys and girls with a healthy outlet for their energies. Apart from it being a vigorous physical activity he saw the sport as an opportunity for teachers and coaches to inculcate in youth the principles of respect for others and good sportsmanship as they mastered a very demanding game.
He deservedly acquired a reputation as a true gentleman, a knowledgeable coach and mentor. He was blessed with an affinity for handling himself in the pool that engendered respect not only in South Africa but also in international circles at the highest levels of the game. Despite his physical strength he never abused it nor jeopardised his standing as an exemplary and universally popular sportsman.
During his playing years he was a feared centre forward in the successful Western Province water polo team that achieved five successive Currie Cup victories between 1958 and 1962. He formed an irresistible attacking spearhead with fellow Springbok, Hans Schofmann.
Voges was selected as a regular member of South African teams and represented South Africa with distinction at home and abroad. Voges was a long-standing member of the Gordons Swimming Club based at the Long Street Baths in the 1950s and then the newly constructed Newlands Swimming Pool during his later career.
Many young players and administrators throughout the country, but particularly in his beloved Cape Town, have him to thank for their success in the sport.