Capetonian, Gershon Brian Rorich, arguably South Africa’s most celebrated volleyball player the country has ever produced passed away on 3 April 2023. From being a master tactician who out-foxed and out-smarted his opponents on the indoor volleyball circuit, Rorich rose to the top of the beach volleyball rankings in South Africa and on the African continent in a short space of time.
The star performer started his volleyball career at Livingstone High School in the Mother City and later joined Pirates Volleyball club, a community- based outfit. It was the late Paul Parker who saw the ‘’genius in the making’’ in the 15 -year old Gershon. Joining Parker’s Black Panthers VC was a life changing experience for the youngsters who used the opportunity to hone his skills under Parker’s expert
Gershon’s volleyball career was set in motion on an upward trajectory. A sparkling performance at a VSA’s championship in Durban in the 1990’s caught the attention of the volleyball selectors who immediately pencilled in the young Gershon’s name as a future prospect for the country’s national men’s team. Over a 20 -year stint in the SA National Team set up, Rorich earned several accolades including an offer to play professionally in Belgium.
Rorich’s transition from indoor volleyball to the beach volleyball format of the sport was seamless. He quickly became the most sought- after partner by fellow beach volleyball players who wanted to earn much needed ranking points and the cash on offer as prize money. However, when Gershon teamed up with fellow Capetonian, Adriaan ‘’Gosh’’ Strydom the duo made ‘’more than just waves’’ on the SA National beach volleyball circuit and on the African continent.
Gersh and Gosh, made the top positions on the podium their very own at all beach volleyball competitions they participated in. Over the years the duo became house-hols names whose mere presence on the beach volleyball circuit struck fear in the hearts of their opponents.
It came as no surprise when Gershon and his new beach partner, Colin Pocock emerged as the African continent’s representatives for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, beach volleyball competition. Rorich and Pocock wrote their names in the ‘’history books’’ as the first African team to finish in a creditable 9 th position in the global event in Athens, Greece. To-date no other African beach volleyball team has
come any where near the record set by Gersh and Colin.
As an indoor super star Gershon thrilled and entertained the crowds where ever he plied his trade. For a period of time in his illustrious playing career that began in Cape Town, Gersh went on to play for clubs in the Eastern Cape, Gauteng and KZN adding value to those teams.
Like all great sporting heroes Gershon chose to ‘retire’ from the sport he was so passionate about when he was at the ‘’top of his game’’ to pass his skills to aspirant provincial and national team hopefuls. During his ’’retirement’’ he vigorously promoted beach volleyball, mapping out South Africa’s plan when he served as VSA’s Beach Volleyball Director for many years. Through his beach volleyball plan Rorich’s intended for South Africa to regain its number one position on the African continent.
Apart from his accomplishments as a volleyball star performer Gershon is credited with spearheading the organising committee for the annual Splash Festival Beach Volleyball Championship which is the longest running beach volleyball event in South Africa.
In addition, Rorich played a critical role in the delivery of the six (6) FIVB World Series Beach Volleyball Championship hosted by VSA from 1995 to 2022. The final one, the Elite 16 was hosted at Cape Town’s Grand Parade in November 2022.
While the curtain has come down on Gershon Rorich’s illustrious playing career and his involvement in the promotion of beach volleyball, his memory will be etched on the minds of the country’s volleyball community for decades to come.
According to VSA President, Mr.Anthony Mokoena, the untimely passing of the legendry Gershon Rorich has left a vacuum in the sport that will be difficult to fill as there is no indication presently that the records set by Gersh will be ‘’broken’’ in this life time.
The VSA President went on to say that Gershon’s passing is a painful reminder that tomorrow is not guaranteed to anyone. Go well, Gersh !
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Jacob Thamaga – VSA PR/Media Director (0725945972 / firstname.lastname@example.org)