President's Voice ÔÇô┬áGideon Sam | SASCOC - SASCOC

President’s Voice ÔÇô┬áGideon Sam

I’m happy to be able to say that the outcomes of the Sports and Recreation Plan Indaba are now at implementation stage.

Certain mandates were given to SASCOC and we are now trying to carry out these mandates. What is very clear to us at SASCOC is that many Federations are battling with some of the implementation strategies that were adopted at this Indaba.

One of example of this is the whole question of demarcation where it is suggested that sport must follow the political boundaries in the provision of sport around the country. Now, in an ideal world this should not be a challenge, but some Federations have over the years followed certain boundaries for reasons that suit their sport. Football (SAFA) has over 50 regions in nine politically demarcated provinces in South Africa.

Athletics South Africa is carved up into 18 regions across nine political provinces. The discussions at the Indaba concluded that it would serve sport better if we could follow these demarcations to follow the distribution of funding that takes place at the various tiers of government. Federations battling with resources find it difficult to implement this particular resolution, but we were very clear that we should go this route and there may be exceptions and over time the matters of demarcation will be resolved.

What is becoming clear during our road shows is that some people are prepared to go to war on this demarcation aspect and our advice is that we should debate these matters soberly and not become too hot-headed about it. We may easily fall into the trap of disunity as was the case at the time when the sports movement was called upon to unite.

Many communities lost what they had built up over years and until today we are battling to re-establish that culture of community sport. We dare not make the same mistake again in our lifetime. The demarcation issue calls for sober debates.

There has always been the question of the development path of an athlete. The basic skills are imparted at pre-school level through to primary school and ultimately high school.

The system is not perfect but the Basic Education Department does encourage and support sport at this level. Some may argue that is not enough because of the huge masses of our learners who do participate in structured school sport.

Be that as it may, what is of bigger concern is the fact that so many learners drop out of sport after their school years. Look at South African school water polo; well structured, huge with a big following, but very little continuation at tertiary institution levels.

Can it be that the sudden freedom at tertiary level give those who for years have been under strict coaches, the gateway to wave goodbye to sport?

We must intervene and study the structures of university sport before it is completely taken over by commercialisation. Commercialisation like the FNB Varsity Cup may be the answer, but should the sports movement not get involved with the tertiary institutions to chart a way forward to ensure that we do not lose so many good sports people, after the school years? We invite open debate on this matter.

Meanwhile we continue to deal with disputes within our federations and we need to reiterate our position, that we are not a dispute resolution confederation.

There is a belief now that we create these disputes because we want to have total control over the federations. Such thinking is very far removed from the truth.

We want to work with the federations so that we can assist our athletes and coaches. In the last quadrennial we demonstrated quite clearly what can be done with limited resources.  In preparation for the Commonwealth Games and beyond, we want to do more for the athletes and coaches.

In trying to achieve this, we will have to get closer to the structures and systems of our affiliated members.  We have to do this because we do not need surprises in sport. We must be able to predict with some fair amount of certainty how we will perform in Rio and beyond. Tough measures will be taken to stabilise all our federations and to refocus them on the task at hand, namely, stellar performances for South African teams.

Our national cricket team is certainly one sport that is showing the way and all our federations must march with the same orders.

It’s also great to see Sifiso Nhlapo, our Olympic BMX biker, is ready to tackle the 2013 season after his battles against injury and then it’s also nice to see that another Olympian, Daryl Impey has won the time trial at cycling’s national road championships in Nelspruit.

Well done to coach Charlie Perreira and the hockey lads for their 9-0 thumping of Brazil and then beating the US 6-1 and lets hope the Banyana Banyana girls can do us proud at the Cyprus Cup next week.

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