If anyone in South Africa deserved the sobriquet ”Mr Softball”, it was Phillipus ”Phillip” Petrus Kahts, who died recently in Cape Town at the age of 62.
The past 46 years of Kahts’s life were devoted to the game.
It was East Londoner Kahts who headed a delegation from South Africa to the United States in 1997 and presented the International Softball Federation (ISF) with a successful bid for the 10th men’s fast-pitch Softball World Cup, which eventually took place in July 2000 at the stadium that bears his name in East London.
Kahts matriculated at Cambridge High School in East London in 1960. Over the years, he played a huge role in sporting, business and political circles in the city.
At various times he served as the chairperson of the Greater East London Publicity Association, an executive member of the East London Chamber of Commerce and president of the Border-Kei Chamber of Business.
He acted as chairperson of Nicro, served on the board of the department of correctional services for the Eastern Cape and Border areas and served a term as a councillor and then deputy mayor of Beacon Bay.
Always one to nurture various minor sports on the Border, Kahts instituted the annual Border-Kei Sportsman of the Year awards evening.
Kahts was heavily committed to the development of softball and worked tirelessly to take the game to underprivileged areas.
He served on the Border Softball Association for more than 28 years, was chairperson of the South African Softball Association and was a national selector.
In 1993, he was elected to the position of vice-president (Africa) of the ISF at a congress in Taiwan. At the time, he described the honour as the pinnacle of his career.
In 1998, Border won the South African interprovincials and then retained the title the following year in Pietersburg, achieving a ”grand slam” of success by winning all the tournaments that year — the first time in 53 years of organised softball in South Africa.
Both Kahts’s sons, Dion and Pierre, represented South Africa in softball internationals at home and overseas.
Kahts was manager of the South African softball team at the ninth World Cup held in the US in 1996, an event at which both his sons appeared.
Last year, he travelled to the 11th Men’s World Cup held in Christchurch, New Zealand, and again both sons represented South Africa. — Sapa