Turning the tables for KZN Athletics

2012-09-20 00:00

WITH proper systems in place, KZN Athletics has turned their financial crisis into a success story and it’s taken only four months.

On April 21 this year, Sello Mokoena took over the reins as president and the KwaZulu-Natal running fraternity watched with more cynicism than encouragement.

Financially, the organisation was in a mess. It was cash-strapped and was barely alive as the governing body of athletics in the province. It was barely breathing and it could only take in air thanks to a R200 000 loan from the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) to assist with the expenses budget.

“It was not a job most people would have readily stepped in to. Athletics in the province had suffered and interest in the sport had waned. Matters had to be addressed in the proper way and first up was the appointment of a treasurer and finance committee to turn things around and bring respect back to the organisation,” said Mokoena.

Speaking to The Witness, Mokoena said: “The cost factor was vitally important. We had to start at the top and create a culture within the ranks, leading by example and using money wisely.”

True to his word, Mokoena set the tone by never claiming travelling expenses. “I undertake much travelling and, as like most businesses, expenses can be claimed from the organisation. When I took over, there was no money to provide for any claim, big or small. I used my own money and this example spread throughout KZN Athletics. Expenditure was and is critical and we are constantly asking whether we are spending wisely, what we are spending on and what benefits and returns we are getting,” he said.

Creditors have been paid, including the CMA, and KZN Athletics had a chance to shine by hosting the SA Cross Country Champs earlier this month, at Hutchinson Park, Amanzimtoti. Said Mokoena: “This was the opportunity we needed to bring integrity back to athletics in KwaZulu-Natal. From the beginning, there was a positive spirit and for me, the greatest reward was seeing how many people came forward as volunteers, readily giving their time to assist and be part of the event. Television crews arrived unannounced and it was the biggest ever championships with 3 600 athletes. The spin-off was the feedback from all the provinces, congratulating us and saying it was the best championships they had attended. We are definitely on the right track.”

How did he do it? Good old fashioned business acumen and application. Mokoena, besides being a runner for many years and forming new clubs along the way, has an MBA in commerce and industry, was a lecturer at UKZN for 13 years, was dean of health sciences for four years and currently chairs entrepreneurship at the Regent Business School.

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