Swift action key to transforming sport

2011-07-09 18:23

Dear Minister Fikile Mbalula:

I come from a generation where missives were the main form of communication, but my skill in this art form is rusty.
The internet, MXit, Twitter and Facebook have seen to this.

Please forgive me if I commit a blunder here and there.

Let me take you back to an ­interview we had at the canteen downstairs at Media Park on ­Saturday February 5, 2005.

You were still ANC Youth League president and the story in City Press the following day had this headline “ANCYL tackles ­rugby, cricket, top brass”.

You said then: “People in leadership positions in cricket and rugby have been more ­concerned with fattening their wallets than the ­development of the two sports.”

Also: “It is sad to see that 10 years after the new dispensation, Makhaya Ntini is the only African black player in the ­national cricket squad.”

You even accused Saru of not ­being “genuine about ­transformation”.

Six years after that interview, we don’t seem to have moved very far from where we were then.

This calls for you to tackle the ­issue of transformation head-on with all the vigour you have shown since taking the highest sports ­office in the land.

It can’t be true that black players can only be wings in rugby, nor that cricketer Hashim Amla is the only non-white player who is a batsman of note out of the entire South African population.

The statistic that all 16 cricket franchise teams are coached by white males says something is wrong.

The composition of cricket, rugby and netball teams representing us in international events paints a picture of a ­different South Africa to the one we live in and see every day.

The lists of Top 10 SA golfers and tennis players create the ­impression that there is a section of our population that is more talented than others.

I refuse to believe that you have to be a certain colour to be the best fly-half in the country, or in the world, for that matter.

I know words like “racism” and “merit” are going to be ­bandied about in defence of the ­status quo by those who are not ready to ­accept change.

I pray you, sir: please do something before we see nasty service delivery-like protests at sports stadiums.

As an aside: While soccer has never been found wanting on matters of transformation, there are anomalies, such as bringing in a Brazilian coach and paying him a hefty R1.8 million per month. Then he fails to qualify the country for the African Cup of Nations in 2010.

This when we have somebody like Shakes Mashaba, who took the Under-20 team to the World Championships, Under-23s to the Olympic Games, easily qualified Bafana Bafana for the Afcon finals in 2004 and was then fired.

This is a no-no! And to ­paraphrase Nelson Mandela: “Not again!”

Yours truly in sport.

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