Kass Naidoo

South African by choice

2007-09-28 08:52

Kass Naidoo

I've been told there is a big debate going on in Durban about where sporting allegiance should lie for people of Indian descent, born in South Africa. This happens every time India and Pakistan tour our country, and is nothing new, really.

From my experience, the South African Indian community is as diverse as our nation. There are those who support South Africa, India, Manchester United, Liverpool, Australia and even Brazil. One thing's for sure, it's a community passionate about sport.

So, who do I support?

Well, my grandfather came to South Africa as a young boy in the early 1900s and I was born in South Africa, and I have felt a strong connection with my South African identity since my earliest recollection.

As a teenager I remember being hauled over the coals by my uncle, who was highly critical of my brother and me supporting South Africa in sport. We used to get into heated debates, often ending with me storming off, insisting that I would always support my country.

So, I know from personal experience that the issue of sporting allegiance in the Indian community is a volatile topic. When South Africa play India or anyone else, I always shout for the green and gold, and I am happy with the choice I have made.

We all hope to one day see a South African team representative of our nation's demographic but we can't expect things to get better if our attitudes stay the same. Negativity prevents us from taking action.

If you want to see development taking place, just go to a cricket clinic in Alexandra, Johannesburg, where we recently saw young white cricketers bussed in to join the crowd and get some vital tips from the Proteas.

So, the busses aren't only going one way, there is a lot happening. To those white people saying, "We will never have a chance again," and to black parents saying, "My child will never get in," maybe we should start talking about the things we can do rather than the things we can't.

Everything is hunky-dory, until we lose. When we win, we pump out our chests and feel so proud to be South African, and when we lose, we start fighting over quotas, the captaincy, and chewing gum.

One defeat in five matches is not a reason to axe the captain. We are too young a democracy to become this despondent; we have achieved remarkable successes in our short history. Even with transformation issues, we are beating top sporting nations more regularly than we are losing.

Support the team, whoever it is, so long as we always put sport first. Make constructive criticism and aim to build rather than offend. Let's stop focusing on petty politics and personality conflicts. If some people dislike the captain, it shouldn't matter. What should matter is what's happening on the field. It may seem fun to call a player fat and useless, but shouldn't we play the ball and not the man?

  • Kass Naidoo is editor of gsport... for Girls!

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