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President’s Voice – Gideon Sam

Two athletes who participated in sporting events in the last week contacted me after the events.
The first unhappy athlete raised the issue of the high cost of participating in sport.
She was at an event and having forked out so much to be part of the event, she asked whether participating in organised sport is not becoming too expensive for the ordinary family.
If you stay in Johannesburg for instance and the event is in Cape Town, think about the costs involved getting there; finding accommodation; paying entry fees. That’s a tough ask for any family who love sport, but earn an ordinary salary.
Worse still, as this athlete argues, if the event is poorly organised.
That is what made her contact me… because the organisation of the event was shocking.
National Federations are the custodians of their particular sport. If they have agreements with event organisers to stage an event on their behalf, they better make sure that certain standards are maintained.
The National Federation of the sport involved apologised and we at SASCOC could only comfort the athlete by raising these concerns.  The issue of the cost of participating in sport is a debate that all of us must participate in.
Everybody wants to make money out of sport, but sport in South Africa remains poor. I guess Nathaniel, the entertainer, is correct when he encourages us to just run in the open veld, enjoy fresh air, and will it cost you nothing.
The matter raised by the second athlete is of a serious nature. Taking part in a cycling event, the ‘K’ word  was thrown at him by a fellow cyclist, a fellow South African.
Suffice to say that the matter is now with the Human Rights Commission. The sad part of course is that the athlete woke up, paid his entry fees, prepared himself to have a great day on his expensive bike, cycling with many other enthusiasts, but now finds himself having to give evidence at the Human Rights Commission.
Twenty years into our democracy and we are still battling with these kind of incidents, surely something will have to give soon. I don’t want to sound like a prophet of doom, but people in sport must really grow up now!
On a positive note, our road shows have kicked off in Kimberley and Bloemfontein and as I suspected, the many programmes that we have in sport are not really understood by people at grassroots level.
Yes, we have a plethora of what we call, ‘oversized T-shirt, coke and burger’ programmes, but in the absence of proper structures, these programmes are not sustainable.
We must have structured clubs in all our communities. There must be sport leaders in all our communities. Local government authorities must deliver basic sport infrastructure to our communities. Communities must deal harshly with vandals who are bent on destroying what is given to us by our authorities.
School children must be school children and play sport or be involved in the performing arts. These road shows are aimed at engaging communities at district and local government levels to share with them what can be done at ward level without having to wait for massive resources to make things happen.
There’ll be more about these road shows in the next update.
Meanwhile our cricketers are now into their World Cup campaign and managed to win their first match comfortably enough. Let’s hold thumbs that they can keep their form up all the way Down Under.
It was also good to see our cyclists shining at the national and Continental championships, and I note that our Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Ashleigh Moolman Pasio is looking ever so strong.
Our judo players had national trials and rankings in Stellenbosch and, as a code who brought back a good few medals back from Glasgow, we watch them carefully.
Well done to Andy Birkett and Laura O’Donaghue for winning the Dusi Canoe Marathon and I’m also holding thumbs for our Amajimbos Under-17 football side at the African Youth Championships in Niger. And at home Banyana Banyana get ready for their next outing to the Cyprus Cup, an invaluable competition in terms of building towards next year’s Rio Olympics.


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