The sports MEC is certain expansive development can lead to the realisation of transformation ideals
The Free State MEC for sport, arts, culture and recreation, Mathabo Leeto, has stressed that transformation is a necessary national goal which different sport unions and franchises need to fast track.
Leeto’s sentiments come a few days after sports minister, Fikile Mbalula, imposed punitive measures on sports unions and federations earlier this week, after a transformation status report was submitted to the minister by the third Eminent Persons Group (EPG) on Transformation – a group assembled to weigh transformation progress in sport– found that they were implementing transformation measures at a snail’s pace.
“What the minister said was a directive to the unions. Transformation is slow and we need to all hold hands to ensure that it eventually gets realised … we are 22 years into democracy,”
She added: “Sport Franchises and Unions need to put systems that will expedite transformation.”
Leeto further stressed that it was important to address the massive imbalances that exist within the sports realm in terms of representation. Although she concedes that progress has been made in terms of implementing transformative measures, she also indicated that there are still some transformation targets that need to be reached.
“Since the advent of Freedom and Democracy, South Africa has put in place legislation which promotes sport transformation. Progress has been made but there are targets that need to be achieved.”
On Monday Mbalula dropped a bombshell on federations and unions that have failed to reach the set transformation targets in line with the transformation barometer monitored by the EPG.
In light of this, Mbalula revoked the respective privileges of Athletics South Africa (ASA), Cricket South Africa (CSA), Netball South Africa (NSA) and the South African Rugby Union (SARU) to host and bid for major international tournaments within the country after they (the federations) failed to reach the transformation targets, which they had set themselves.
Mbalula also pronounced that the South African Football Association had met its transformation targets, but revealed that the association had failed to infiltrate “model C” schools (privileged and predominantly white schools) to promote football. He said he will subsequently issue an alternative directive to SAFA in this regard.
Transformation in sport has been a contentious issue since the dawn of democracy in South Africa. The issue largely revolves around racial imbalances – in terms of representation – in a number of sporting codes in the country whereby white sports men are seen to be favoured over other races in those particular sporting codes.
From the onset, a quota system was introduced to address the said imbalances with players of colour being strategically seeded in franchises and national teams to bolster racial inclusivity. This approach was in recent years abandoned with the sports ministry introducing more proactive approach that will focus more on player development to reach transformation targets.
This approach recently paved way for progressive transformation policies such as the Strategic Transformation Plan (STP) which is largely aimed at speeding up transformation in the rugby fraternity. In simple terms, the STP outlines the transformation targets for the South African Rugby Union (SARU) and affiliated franchises with the deadline set for 2019.
Leeto strongly believes development can be a means to realising the country’s transformation objectives. She said this can be achieved through the introduction of new sporting codes or promoting less popular sports in township schools; and also providing adequate facilities.
“As the department we are more than willing to develop talent through the school sport programme which we are implementing in the Free State.
“A lot has been done by our department in the province as well as nationally to ensure that kids do participate.
“We need to ensure that the sporting codes which are not popular in our township schools like rugby cricket and swimming in the main are introduced and supported. Together we will ensure transformation of sport occurs in the province,” she concluded.