Are the federation bans justified?

2016-04-26 10:18

25th of April 2016 is the date that saw Minister Fikile Mbalula step away from the twitter streets and address issues that have been plaguing our sporting fraternity. He has imposed bans to 4 major sport federations in the form of South African Rugby Union (SARU), Netball SA, Athletics South Africa (ASA) and Cricket South Africa (CSA). These federations have been banned from bidding to host any major international tournaments until they meet the transformation goals that have been set. This is all good and well for transformation in South African sport, but should there be more done to implement meaningful and long lasting transformation within these federations?

Sport in South Africa has a great and proud history with successes at international level. Since the 90’s, we have seen a steady decline in the quality of talent and the diminishing number of black players at the highest level. It is quite sad that South Africa had to wait more than 20 years for the first black batsman to score a century in the Proteas colours. CSA and SARU has only seen less than 30 non-white players (combined) make the senior national teams over the past 25 years since readmission to the international arena. What role should Minister Mbalula play to ensure that these numbers are rectified?

The first thing that should be done is to investigate the federations and the unions that fall under these federations. Find the people opposed to transforming these sporting codes and get rid of them. The heads of these federations should also be dismissed based on their performances, or lack thereof rather. We have many people who are able to push these federations in the right direction. These organisations cannot underfund areas that need the funding the most. Our rural areas are suffering because we never see the unions reach out to them in a meaningful capacity. It is always one day clinics which they coin as “giving back to the community”, which is useless if you are going to be in an area once every 6 months. Our children need to be given resources and the long-term commitment from these unions and federations. The areas that need resources should be made first priority. Most children and schools in urban areas can afford to buy their own equipment and maintain sport fields through sponsors and donors. Let the federations build facilities that are accessible and help to maintain the facilities to promote participation.

Minister Mbalula and the heads of the federations should be the ones that bring stakeholders to the table to put proposals forward and invest in facilities in areas that need them the most. If you give children an environment where they could improve their skills, they will utilise it and this would be a great way to ensure that kids get the much-needed familiarisation with the various sporting codes from a really young age. Stakeholders are very important going forward and the people with the most influence should lead the way to ensure that we invest in our young players.

Bans will only solve the immediate problem, but by scrutinising the structures that bring players up, we can solve the problem at its roots. We need major participation, not academies.

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