Thursday, May 5, 2016

Sports transformation

The Sports Minister has got his cards all wrong. Twenty two years into our "non-racial democracy", the ruling ANC government should have ensured that programes had been put in place at grass roots levels - schools and communities - to ensure that there was a rapid growth of people of colour into sports such as cricket, rugby, swimming etc. When we were first invited by India to send a cricket team to that country, I was one of those who was opposed to this tour. I felt that cricket had not earned its place in the international arena. Most of us in the anti-apartheid struggles wanted to see cricket fully transformed. But of course the ANC elites - including the late Steve Tshwete - were purchased by Ali Bacher and company. We gave him the benefit of the doubt because we wanted to see our "new non-racial" South Africa succeed. We should by now seen all the players selected on merit. But now two decades later the Sports Minister says these sporting codes have not transformed enough. Now whose fault is this? It's an ANC Government that has not kept to its promises of improving the social, sporting and economic lives of the poor and marginalised. At this time I recall what Mr M N Pather, secretary of the SACOS and South African Non-Racial Tennis Union, told me some time in the 1980s at his offices in the former "Grey Street" area of Durban. His office was situated in a building near the Naaz Cinema. I asked him when will the non-racial struggle in sport come to an end. He said: "Subry, we will only be satisfied once we have a non-racial and democratic society where all people would enjoy equal opportunities and privileges. When this is achieved I would have no problems whether the national teams are all black or all white because I would then know that the teams would be selected on merit." It's clear that as Ashwin says the government is to blame for the shambles we find ourselves in. If they put in extra efforts in schools and in communities then we should have no problems in all sportsmen - whatever colour - enjoying the privilege of representing our "non-racial" South Africa.

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