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SASCOC President Sam on SA Sporting Challenge

‘The period 2016-2017 was a period of both positives and negatives in South African sport. The positives being that we had an excellent Rio Olympics and Paralympics where our athletes across all spheres continued to do the rainbow nation proud whilst the biggest negative during this period was the fact that Durban did not get the nod to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games.’

So said SASCOC President Gideon Sam on Saturday at the national sports umbrella body’s General Meeting – an event which was modified from that of an Annual General Meeting due to lack of signed financials at Olympic House, Johannesburg, with 71 National Federations and Sports Confederations in attendance.

‘The 2022 Games was an event which I was so confident we had firmly in our grasp but sadly the economic climate in the country made it impossible to carry on with what we firmly believed would have been a wonderful opportunity for our athletes to showcase their talents in front of their home crowd as well as the 2023 Rugby World Cup.”

The General meeting was held at the most unusual time of February well over six months later than the usual scheduling of this important yearly occasion. “But then I must emphasise from the outside that it is abundantly clear that we are not living in usual times with a lot happening in the world.

“Even in South Africa we are not immune to global uncertainty and politically we find ourselves in an extreme state of flux as we seem to be caught between two presidencies right now,” explained Sam.

Sam gave some highlights of how South African sport performed in the period in question, one that concluded back in April last year.

“I urge you to think about the schools’ project that continues to elude us. I’ve said this before and will no doubt say it again: The bedrock of each and every sport is school sport and we must grab this nettle and deal with it. If the brutal truth be told, the majority of our schools in this country are not regular participants in sport.

“The time has now come for National Federations who are serious about survival, to take a serious look at school sport. We can no longer plead poverty as National Federations because sooner or later we will have no athletes to advance for a winning nation,” Sam explained.

Getting back to performances over the year in question, apart from the Olympics and Paralympics the other multi-code games were the AUSC Region 5 Games in Luanda, Angola.

Sam explained that these regional events may get very little in the way of exposure (barring of course on the Team SA website) but despite their many unique challenges it’s a unique opportunity for our youth to find their feet on the continental stage before stepping on to the global stage.

“Moving off the sporting field, just like is happening at government level, we also find ourselves in a state of flux at SASCOC.

“You will all no doubt be patently aware of the boardroom goings-on in Olympic House over the last year. I have said time and again that good governance is non-negotiable and that goes for every facet of life.

“The decision taken in January this year to dismiss three long-serving SASCOC employees was no knee-jerk reaction. It came after months and months of thorough investigation and deliberation, from all angles.

“As I’ve said, this was not a decision taken lightly. It was made after extensive legal investigation, research and long hard and honest hours of discussion at board level.

“Again, when it comes to conflict resolution I’ve always urged our federations to sort things out amongst themselves before rushing to court and incurring expensive legal fees and the like and from my side I think we have done our utmost to sort this matter out with the minimum of fuss and the utmost decorum for everyone concerned,” explained Sam.

Sam informed the delegates that SASCOC’s work is not over yet and on Monday the ministerial Committee of Inquiry begins it’s investigation into SASCOC.

“I have the utmost faith in the Honorable Minister of Sport, Mr Thulas Nxesi and believe we will be able to move on in positive fashion once this is concluded.”

Sam concluded his address by highlighting that SASCOC was able to come out of the last sporting year with their heads held high because of the many people and structures who supported us. He expressed his sincere gratitude to National Federations who as usual toiled all year round to produce the athletes to deliver to all our major competitions.

He also thanked all partners such as the IOC, CGF, IPC, ANOCA, COSANOC and our loyal sponsors National Lotteries Commission and SRSA, without which the already challenging task would be even more enormous.

Honorouble Minister Nxesi in his address highlighted the challenges sport bodies face and the need to get to the bottom of this – to test whether underlying systemic issues are at play.

“We need to discuss the proposition that we may well be delivering sport in an ill-defined environment characterised by inaccessibility, inequality and low participation rates,” said Nxesi.

“SASCOC performs crucial functions for sport in the country bestowed and delegated to it in terms of the National Sport and Recreation Amendment Act no. 18 of 2007. SRSA and SASCOC have a joint interest in the well-being of sport.”

Nxesi paid tribute to the leadership of SASCOC in demonstrating maturity on the Committee of Inquiry.

“I met with the Board near OR Tambo airport on 22 January. We were able to clarify and address our respective concerns and find each other. The meeting agreed that the Zulman Ministerial Committee of Inquiry was the best platform to address any governance challenges being experienced by SASCOC – in the collective belief that good governance is critical to delivering excellence in sport,” added Nxesi.

He advised the delegates that the media release sent by the Sports and Recreation Department on the Commission of Inquiry was a wrong statement, instead the joint statement titled “Statement on the meeting between the Department of Sport and Recreation South Africa (SRSA) and the South African Sport Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) sent subsequent to that is the correct one.

Nxesi informed the meeting that the Committee of Inquiry is going ahead and he urged everyone present to get involved in it and use it as an opportunity to review the operations of SASCOC as it may provide a platform for a wider discussion about reviewing and renewing the wider sports system.

He also urged members to stop airing their organisation’s dirty linen in public as this further tarnishes their brands. Instead he urged all delegates to reach consensus on issues they disagree with, and as a collective find solutions to problems.

Nxesi also expressed his concern on Sport Transformation in relation to the teams that represent South Africa at international sporting events.

“Let us remind ourselves that the transformation of sport is a national priority to promote social cohesion and nation building. Whilst we have seen real progress in some codes – most spectacularly with Rugby 7s – progress appears to be slow in relation to our participation in multi-coded international events.”

“For the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Team South Africa was more than 70% white. At Rio the representation was 60% white. I hope we will see further improvement in the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

‘This is about the national image of the country and the credibility of Team South Africa. It is about the political impact of the optics: people see an overwhelmingly white delegation to an international event, and questions are asked in Parliament – and we have to explain why development and transformation is so slow”, he added.

He concluded by urging SASCOC to keep up the good work they are doing and address the challenges which have been identified.

 


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