SAPS National Athletics Executive Committee members; Colonel Daniel (VG) Naidoo, second from left, with the honorary membership badge with from left: Lieutenant-Colonel Trevor Pubalakan, Lieutenant-Colonel Hardus Rossouw, Colonel Carona Visser (chairperson) and Warrant Officer Jonathan Hartnick.

Sport - A retired policeman, who spent more than three decades in the force, was recognised for his invaluable contribution towards sports when he received an honorary membership from the South African Police Athletic Association.

Colonel Daniel “VG” Naidoo, 61, of the Bluff, recently received a SAPAA badge at an awards evening at the Tshwane Police Academy in Pretoria.

Naidoo, who retired in 2014 after 37 years serving and protecting South Africans, said he was humbled by the acknowledgement.

“As a young boy growing up on a sugar estate in Humberdale on the south coast of KZN, you would always find the youngsters playing soccer or cricket or competing in running matches. 

"It was our source of entertainment. When I joined the force, I remained physically active and loved playing sports,” said Naidoo.

“Ten years before I retired, I played an active role in three sporting codes - athletics, marathon running and functional fitness - and I was an executive member of SAPAA.”

Among his numerous roles, Naidoo was part of the management team during the Southern Africa Regional Police Chiefs Co-operation Organisations Games in Pretoria in 2005, Zimbabwe in 2007 and Namibia in 2013.

He was also the KZN SAPS provincial co-coordinator for athletics and functional fitness for several years.

Recalling his journey in the SAPS, the father of three said he had an unfulfilling job and decided to take the plunge during a SAPS recruitment drive in 1977.

“After completing matric at Shastri Park College in 1976, I studied towards a hotel management diploma, but did not feel the career path suited me, so I left and began looking for a job.”

He secured employment in the accounts division of the Umzinto North Town Board.

“While there, a friend told me the police were recruiting people, and I applied, and was posted to the Scottburgh station for a few weeks, before going to the Wentworth Police Training College for six months.

“I was the best student among my troop, and once I completed the training, I was stationed at Scottburgh SAPS for nine years, where I climbed my way up the ranks.”

He was the first Indian on the South Coast, he said, to be ranked a lieutenant and this ruffled many feathers.

“A lady wrote a letter to the minister of police at the time. It was published in a local newspaper, and she wanted to know how an Indian could be second in charge.

“After this, I was moved to Isipingo SAPS for a few years and Wentworth and Malvern police stations as the station commander.”

He remained at Malvern SAPS for 10 years, and during this time became active with SAPAA.

“I helped coordinate events, obtained sponsorships and donations and helped grow sports within the SAPS. Even after I retired, I continued to assist the association.”

Naidoo, a nominee in the Best Sports Administrator category at the National Sports Awards in 2013 and 2014, said fitness should be a priority for all police officers.

“The police are expected to be fit. They must be able to chase fleeing criminals without losing their breath. Being physically active also has health benefits.

“When an officer is sick due to being unhealthy, it not only affects his peers, who will have a larger workload, but the community who need protection.”