SASCOC's Operation Excellence: the Facts | SASCOC - SASCOC

SASCOC’s Operation Excellence: the Facts

Recent reports in some media maligning SASCOC’s Operation Excellence Programme need to be challenged and corrected, as failure to do so would perpetuate the false and misleading perception created by the one sided reporting.

These ill informed reports create the impression that OPEX is a haphazard, unstructured and authoritarian system that jeopardizes the careers and livelihoods of athletes who join the programme. However, a cursory reading of the documentation relating to OPEX on SASCOC’s website would immediately contradict these mischievous allegations emanating from some media and athletes.

OPEX is designed to offer support to athletes who have the potential to qualify for participation and returning medals at a higher level in the multi-coded events under the organisation’s umbrella of sports. It is the premier programme for prospective Olympic and Paralympic medalists and the programme consists of three different tiers which provide varying degrees of funding and support.

OPEX places binding obligations on SASCOC as well detailed responsibilities and commitments on the athletes who have joined the programme.

In the present quadrennial phase, OPEX would operate in the following manner:

  1. i) In Tier One, which is the highest level, athletes in this category will receive comprehensive support from SASCOC. For athletes to qualify for support under this tier, they would have been medalists at the London 2012 Olympic/ Paralympic Games and are still eligible for participation in Rio 2016; finalists at the London 2012 Olympic/Paralympic Games and are still eligible for 2016 participation.
  2. ii) To receive support in Tier Two, they would have to be Junior and Youth athletes who were medalists and finalists at the inaugural 2010 Youth Olympic Games and who are eligible for participation and have potential to return medals at the 2016 Olympic/Paralympic Games; medalists and finalists at the 2011 Commonwealth Youth Games and are eligible for participation and have potential to return medals at the 2016 Olympic/Paralympic Games.

iii) Tier Three athletes will receive support if they have consistently proven their potential to return medals at major international events. SASCOC will, at the motivation of the NFs, consider supporting these athletes.

It must be noted that athletes are nominated through their National Federations (NFs) in order to participate in the OPEX Programme. SASCOC allocates funding to athletes based on plans and budgets submitted by these National Federations. While these allocations will be specific to the athlete’s needs, some items listed in the plan or budget may not be funded. Allocations are considered on a case-by-case basis based on each athlete’s circumstances.

The support services offered directly to athletes, through the OPEX programme, include living expenses, medical aid, transport to and from training sessions and access to training facilities.

The other services that are allocated directly to the NFs, include international camps and competitions, local camps and competitions, and technological support services. Coaching fees are paid directly to the coach while scientific and medical support services are paid directly to the service providers. Sport specific equipment, based on special application and endorsed by the NF, is also paid as well career planning and life skills support, which is based on a programme implemented by SASCOC.

The monthly support grant is primarily to assist towards meals (excluding restaurant bills), petrol or taxi fare to training and competitions, cell phone and internet and stipulated expenses incurred as part of preparation for the Rio 2016 XXXI Olympiad. In this regard athletes must submit receipts/ invoices for all expenses for the support grant and any expenses paid for by SASCOC as proof that all monies were used for what they were intended for. Failure by the athlete to produce these invoices and receipts in respect of expenses paid for by SASCOC will result in the athlete’s next month’s support grant not being paid or processed. Should the athlete fail to produce the relevant invoices for a period of two months in succession, without reasonable explanation then and in such event the athlete may be immediately dropped from the programme. These obligations are contained within the contract signed between SASCOC and the athlete and are in keeping with good corporate governance and general financial discipline.

While these media reports conveniently and readily target SASCOC, National Federations, whose sole responsibility are the athletes, have a more direct and serious obligation to their athletes. These NFs have escaped media criticism or simply ignored by media who seem to have adopted a blinkered approach in reporting this story.

According to the contract between, SASCOC and the athlete, the NF shall assist SASCOC in the monitoring of the usage of the allocated financial contribution towards the preparation programme of athlete. The NF shall ensure that its nominated Athlete participates in the various multi-coded international events as specified by SASCOC, especially the 2015 African Games and the 2016 Olympic Games.

More importantly, NFs must ensure that the athlete has all the necessary support structures to provide maximum output with regard to their performances. This means that the NFs should secure all the necessary financial, material and physical support that will lead to the athlete performing at the highest level.

SASCOC faces the challenge of limited resources and it can only prioritise Sports Codes based on past quadrennial performance history. This is to ensure that resources are invested in sports that will return medals for the country, which is the ultimate performance measure in any Games and determines SA’s standing in terms of ranking.