Sports minister threatens to tighten the screws

2012-03-17 18:27

The government is threatening to withhold money and political support from federations like the SA Rugby Union and Cricket SA because they have done too little in the past 18 years to transform sport.

The government gives about R250 million to 83 federations every year, but the big five get most of this money.

Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula said in Parliament this week that quotas alone are insufficient and that the screws will now be tightened.

He is going to appoint a transformation committee before March 31 because the government can no longer leave it to the five largest sports federation to decide how they are going to transform rugby, cricket, athletics, soccer and netball.

The department said that it is especially rugby and cricket that are falling far short in this regard.

According to their statistics, only 25 of the country’s schools produce about 90% of Springbok rugby players and 32 schools 90% of the Proteas.

These top players come mostly from schools with “status”, while schools in rural and previously disadvantaged areas still do not enjoy equal opportunities or development.

Black talent must be identified at school level and developed, and in due course this will result in the racial demography being reflected naturally in sports teams.

The same goes for soccer at schools where white children are traditionally not exposed to this sport.

Mbalula’s transformation committee will submit a report every year, and federations will receive money according to how well they comply with these requirements – especially the development of sport at schools.

Sport director-general Alec Moemi warned that if less money does not hurt the big five, the minister will resort to the Sport and Recreation Act to withdraw his political support and even go so far as to deregister federations.

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