Playing fields not quite level, despite progress

Monday, May 7, 2018

More than 50% of sport federations in South Africa have reported senior and underage representative teams that are well below the envisaged 50% representation target.

Despite this, some progress is being made in top codes such as cricket and rugby, which gives a glimpse into a future where transformation can be a reality.

Sport and Recreation Minister Tokozile Xasa on Monday released the 5th Eminent Persons Group (EPG) report on the transformation status for 2016/17.

The report is based on the analysis of data submitted by 19 federations.

“The annual EPG audits to date have shown more than 50% of sport federations have reported senior and underage representative teams and high performance pipelines featuring demographic black African profiles well below 50%.

“It is possible that some of these federations could be faced with longer term sustainability challenges if this issue is not more proactively dealt with,” said Minister Xasa at a briefing in Tshwane.

The report showed, however, that at a governance and decision making level, 60% of federations audited have elected black presidents into position, and almost 70% have reported the election of boards that are more than 50% black.

“Women representation at board level has also been shown to be improving in that seven out of the 19 federations have reported female representation at board level larger than that prescribed by the [transformation] charter,” said Minister Xasa.

The good news

The Minister is optimistic that demographic representation in national senior male teams of athletics, cricket, football, volleyball, boxing and table tennis have all achieved the charter target with netball, chess, gymnastics, hockey and rugby moving in the right direction to achieve this interim milestone.

“Year-on-year change in the black demographic profile of senior representative teams demonstrates the progress made over a short period,” said Minister Xasa.

Cricket’s black profile has improved from 45% to 60%; hockey from 20% to 45%; rugby from 34% to 42% and netball from 37% to 56%.

Minister Xasa said transformation imperatives must respond to these five areas:

  • Demographic representation in key categories;
  • Access to participation and involvement in sport;
  • Skill and capability development and improvement;
  • Governance performance in selected areas and
  • Economic empowerment in the sports industry.

Hope for the future

Transformation in sport is one of the functions of the National Development Plan (NDP), which envisions a South Africa where all people are more conscious of the things they have in common rather than their differences across divisions of race, gender, space and class.

Minister Xasa said the NDP recognizes sport’s role in promoting wellness, social cohesion and fostering nation building.

“The need for each sporting code’s participation profile to reflect the population demographic of the country by 2030 is on the basis of expanding sport participation opportunities for all. This will require national sport teams and structures to represent all sectors of society, producing results that mirror the country’s passion for sport,” the Minister said.

Currently, there are about 55 million people in South Africa, with 80% of them black African, 9% white and 2% Indian. Black African birth rates are fast increasing, with the birth rate among whites declining, said Minister Xasa.

She said the country’s sports future is closely linked with gaining access to and successfully developing the 20 million under-18-year-old segment of the population.

In this group, 17 million – or 85% - are black African, and are projected to increase by 24% over the next 25 years. On the other hand, 1.4 million – or 7% - of the group is white, and is projected to decrease by 31% over the next 25 years, Minister Xasa said.

“Therefore federations must bear in mind this reality,” said the Minister.

Catching them young

Minister Xasa said efforts must be concentrated at school level.

“Audit reports over the past four years have suggested that an effective school sport system – the ultimate source of sport’s human capital – will be the definitive platform on which to transform SA sport from a dominant minority representation position to a majority inclusive reality.

“However, it has been shown that the existing school sport system has become the Achilles heel of South African sport for a number of complex reasons.”

To address these and other issues, the existing MOU between the Sport Department and the Department of Basic Education is in the process of being reviewed to address the challenges preventing the establishment of a coordinated school sport system to improve access and delivery of school sport. –

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