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Sam urges SA sport onwards to 2016

Gold is at the top of SASCOC President Gideon Sam’s planning as South Africa focuses on the build-up to the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Sam was speaking at the ninth SASCOC Annual General Meeting at Olympic House in Johannesburg where 69 of the National Federations gathered under the national sports umbrella organisation.

“At the SASCOC Board’s ‘lekgolta’ we took note of the fact that we got six medals at the Olympic Games last year,” said Sam. “Now, some say that was good, others say that was not good enough but what we have learnt is that this country wants medals. If we don’t give them medals they jeer at you and say you haven’t performed.

“So we have decided after that two-day meeting, that gold is at the top of our plan. In the final analysis we must deliver on our mandate. We at SASCOC take the teams, present them at multi-code events around the world and our goal is gold.”

But Sam warned that the playing field was constantly changing. “We can’t simply take people along for experience etc. The National Federations must find ways to build capacity in their own ranks and deliver them to us to take it further. I emphasise, we are chasing gold.”

Key to future success at multi-code events, says, Sam, is SASCOC’s Operation Excellence programme (OPEX). “I must remind the public that it’s not the responsibility of SASCOC to go out and find any Johnny, Sizwe, or Cecilia. It’s the jobs of the National Federations to identify that talent and once that has happened, we’ll take them further.

“I was told the reason why our team only won one medal at the World Athletics Championships was that we have no coaches. But we are well aware that coaches are vital, so two areas continue to be our priority as we head towards the Commonwealth Goals in Scotland next year and onwards to Rio and those are the athletes and coaches.

“To this end we have a High Performance Advisory Committee under the able leadership of SASCOC Chief Executive Officer, Mr Tubby Reddy. This committee consults with the best brains of South African sport and they advise and liaise with us. We talk to everyone, universities, the SA National Defence Force. We also go to our various provincial MEC’s, engage with them and we get overseas experts in… on an ongoing basis.”

Funding is always an issue in South African sport and Sam also touched on this. “When it comes to funding it’s the order of the day to worry.

So far, Sport and Recreation SA’s funding is a little reduced this year, but we’ll come back to address that. Of course, we don’t want funding in 2016, we want it now, but the Lotto has been good to us and Olympic Solidarity has also been good to us.”

However, sport cannot rely on only that source of funding. “The problem is that the sponsors are still not looking at us. I was impressed by Tennis SA President, Mr Bongani Zondi, who recently mentioned that there are more than three federations in this country. We must get real and our various Presidents must stand up and have their say as well.”

Director General of Sport and Recreation South Africa, Mr Alec Moemi, sympathised with Sam on the funding front but said Government will not leave sport in the lurch. “We as Sport and Recreation get one of the smallest budgets and I’m sorry to have to say that it’s going to get even less over the next three years, so it’s not going to be better it will be worse.

“However we have moved to safeguard the sports allocations and have cut back on our own expenses to make sure the National Federations don’t suffer. It just doesn’t make sense to cut back with Rio already only three years away. We just have to accept that it’s tough for all of us.”

But it wasn’t only bad news for SA sport. “In the Olympic year we will definitely give you much more so that SASCOC are able to deliver a good SA team to the Olympics.”

Sam also expressed satisfaction about provincial structures around the country. “Some are moving faster than others but it is happening. SASCOC is all about structures. Yes, there are sideshows but we’ll deal with them. What you see here today though is that we’re driving to Rio, via Glasgow. That process has started and we are dealing with individuals already.”

The recently launched National Training Centre in Mangaung, Free State also came in for mention. “It’s there for all of you. Get the cream of your federation’s athletes there, all the sporting excellence is there. Badminton are already using it and we’re seeing the benefits with that code’s results in Africa. Boxing and Karate have also used it.”

Reference was also made to the training base in Gemona, Italy. “We’re in the final stages of signing the documents. Leading sports experts will be assisting us and it’s a stop in Europe where our athletes can train while they compete in Europe.”

Sam also took time out to laud the recent World Transplant Games. “Durban, KwaZulu-Natal hosted these Games and it was a job well done. If we ever host the world we must host them in such a way that they want to come back and these Games were a huge success.”

However the President wasn’t that enamoured with Team South Africa’s performance at the 2013 World Games in Colombia. “Frankly I was disappointed. After the 2009 World Games we came back and started preparing more seriously for these Games. Thanks to lifesaving, tug-of-war and sevens rugby for bringing us medals but where are the rest. Look at Russia/France and Italy… they are taking these games seriously.

“We need to see teams that will perform at these Games. There were far too many non-performers for my liking. By the time we get to the next Games in Poland, 2017, I want to see more, this country deserves more we are not a third-rate country.”

In terms of the bidding and hosting of major international events, Sam touched on the possibility of lodging a bid for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

“We must soon decide whether we want to host the Commonwealth Games. England and Singapore are already making inquiries about 2022 and we need to establish our position.”

Certainly, at government level, it seem there is enthusiasm at this prospect. In his keynote address Deputy Sports Minister Mr Gert Oosthuizen said: “Bidding procedures go through Director-General of Sport and we will then take it through the relevant channels up to Cabinet level. We must bid for the 2022 Commonwealth Games. We can’t let opportunities like these go by and we await your letter for application to host the Games.”

On matters of transformation, Sam urged continuous progress in this regard. “The Eminent Persons Group is in place, monitoring our transformation process, engaging, sharing and taking action, whether it be corrective or punitive. We also guide our members in this regard, because you as Federations are accountable for transformation programmes.”

In terms of the Memorandum of Incorporation (MOI) Ratification, the National Federations also received top-level legal advice on recent developments relating to the Companies Act and whether individual Federations should follow a system of operating as Section 21 Companies or whether to switch over to an Association. This included the SASCOC umbrella body. National Federations duly voted that SASCOC becomes an Association and the matter will be referred to a Special General meeting.

SASCOC’s Desiree Vardhan (Manager: Coaches Department) also briefed the Federations on the upcoming Global Coaches Conference in Durban, that will be hosted by SASCOC.

“This is a milestone in preparing our athletes. One of the milestones will be that the International Sports Coaching framework will be launched and I’m proud to say that elements of our very own SA Coaching Framework are represented in that work.

“There will be very strong engagement and networking opportunities at the various plenary and breakaway sessions.” Among SASCOC personnel addressing the Conference will be President Sam, CEO Tubby Reddy, IOC Executive Member Dr Sam Ramsamy while national rowing coach Roger Barrow will also speak.

Chef de Mission to the World Games at Colombia, Ms Jean Kelly, also reported back on the team’s performance. “We had four medals and ended 33rd out of 98 countries. We ended No1 country in Africa and second of the Commonwealth Games… we also beat Australia. There were promises made by the Local Organising Committee that they did not deliver on and this did impact on performance.

“This team also did better than we did at the previous two games in 2005 (where we ended 47th) and 2009 (where we ended 44th).”


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