Durban - At least 2 500 KwaZulu-Natal schools have responded enthusiastically to national government's school sports programme, exceeding the target by 1 000 schools.
Last month, the national Departments of Sport and Recreation and Basic Education kicked off the Magnificent Wednesday Campaign, which is the implementing project of the sport programme for schools, in Mamelodi in Pretoria.
Of the 27 000 schools in SA, about 10 000 from seven provinces had already enrolled in the programme.
Sport and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula and Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, together with various sport legends, launched the initiative that aims to develop sport in South Africa by starting in schools.
Mbalula said his department was investing an amount of R33 million in the programme to ensure that sports were played in schools.
At the launch Mbalula said: "This is a great occasion for South Africa as we give meaning to sport development in the country. Sports Wednesday is here to foster healthy living, talent identification and nurturing."
Speaking to BuaNews, KZN Arts, Culture, Sports and Recreation department spokesperson Mluleki Mntungwa said: "We are currently engaging the Department of Education through the district offices, school governing body, teachers unions and other stakeholders to ensure that registration forms are distributed and schools are registered to participate in leagues."
The department is also in a process of establishing the school leagues code, working with the education department. Football, netball and athletics leagues have been established thus far.
A memorandum between the departments is being finalised and will guide their working relationship to achieve the goals set by the national ministers.
Mntungwa said the training of educators in sports administration, team management, coaching, has begun as part of the programme.
He said the provincial championships for the top schools will take place in September 2012 and the departments are currently ensuring that the Magnificent Wednesday Campaign is intensified.
"The audit of the school sport facilities and other needs is ongoing and there will be allocation of resources moving forward," said Mntungwa.
KZN MEC for Arts, Culture, Sports and Recreation Ntombikayise Sibhidla-Saphetha has already started to visit schools to assess their readiness for the programme.
"More and regular visits will be conducted by the MEC to check if all participating schools have adequate facilities for all the codes that have identified. She will also make visits to schools to see if they are participating on magnificent Wednesdays where all schools are supposed to be playing after school hours," said Mntungwa.
Mntungwa said the MEC is pleased by the enthusiasm shown by the schools she has visited so far.
"In some schools in the rural areas, they have even more sport codes over and above the prioritised codes."
Sibhidla-Saphetha has urged schools that have better facilities to make them available to nearby schools that are not in the same position.
Schools are also being linked with municipalities to ensure that the municipalities' facilities are also accessible to schools.
Conditional grants will allow for the distribution of equipment to the most needy schools as per registration to participate in the school leagues. It will cover all nine codes identified at national level: athletics; basketball; chess; cricket; football; gymnastics; netball; rugby and volleyball.
Indigenous Games are also expected to form part of the programme.
"The province always emerged victorious in the Indigenous Games competitions ... We are excited that indigenous games have been included in the programme. We are hard at work to engage all relevant stakeholders in this field to ensure that we are fully prepared," said Mntungwa.