Newsmaker – Tubby Reddy: ‘I’m not a bully in a Chinese shop’

2013-04-28 14:00

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Sascoc CEO Tubby Reddy doesn’t care if he’s unpopular; he’s simply ‘cleaning up sport’

The only time Tubby Reddy gets really emotional during our interview is when I tell him I dislike volleyball.

The sport is his greatest passion. He started playing while still at school and remains a committed administrator.

“I will make you watch proper volleyball one day,” he insists.

For the most part, the CEO of the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) is far calmer than you’d expect from a man under fire.

If the SA Football Association (Safa) had got its way earlier this month, Reddy would be unemployed.

But he brushes off the mention of Safa’s motion of no confidence, which was presented at a Sascoc general council meeting: “It did not trouble me because I knew it was going nowhere.”

The motion was rejected because, according to Sascoc rules, matters of that nature can only be discussed at the organisation’s annual general meeting. This is scheduled for August.

Reddy and Safa butted heads after he bypassed the soccer body and went straight to the police’s Hawks investigative unit with a dossier that he claims contains evidence of corruption at Safa.

Then, he and Sascoc president Gideon Sam publicly recommended that the commission of inquiry that will probe match-fixing allegations involving Safa be given the power to investigate financial mismanagement.

It’s not just that though. Reddy does not seem to be a popular man among many of the country’s 74 sporting federations.

He doesn’t care. When he became Sascoc’s chief executive in 2009, Reddy says, he upset the status quo.

“I just do what I am employed to do. People who want me out because I’m doing my job and people who happen to be in the firing line of what I do, do not worry me a bit.”

He believes his focus on cleaning up corruption and poor governance in South Africa’s sporting codes has raised hackles.

The desk phone in his “messed-up office” at Olympic House in Melrose, Johannesburg, rings.

He glances at it, then ignores the shrill tones and keeps talking.

“The biggest challenge right now is that federations are coming unstuck around finances and governance issues, and it’s very new for many to suddenly have somebody saying, ‘Hold on, something is wrong here.’ It’s never been done.”

There’s something of the stern schoolmaster about Reddy.

No surprise, since the 53-year-old father of three started his professional life teaching maths and science in Port Elizabeth.

He quit teaching for sports administration and holds a master’s degree in sports management from the University of Lyon in France.

He’s stern, but flatly denies that he’s a bully – an allegation often levelled at him by his enemies within the federations.

“I’m not a deployed cadre and therefore will not be treated as such. I’m qualified for this job. I’m here as a result of merit.”

When he appeared before the parliamentary standing committee on sports earlier this month, he and Sam were accused of being too soft on, and even scared of, Safa.

He scoffs at the suggestion, saying he calls federations to order within legal processes because he does not “act like a bully in a Chinese shop” – his exact words.

Before I leave, I ask the obvious question: Surely Tubby’s not his real name? He smiles.

When he started school, his real name – Sundrasagren – was too difficult for “my white teacher to pronounce”.

So he became Tubby, and the name’s stuck.

If Reddy has his way, his job title will stick too, and he’ll fend off any motions of no confidence come August.

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