Sport And Recreation Portfolio Committee Study Tour To Russia And Tunisia

Debate By: MJ Mazibuko, IFP MPL
On Behalf of Hon. PN Msimango, IFP MPL
Thursday, 01 November 2018
KwaZulu-Natal Legislature; Pietermaritzburg


Hon Speaker and Hon. Members;

For the IFP, it was a privilege to be part of the delegation that visited Russia. This was a much-needed tour for our sporting sector which is still grappling with the somewhat thorny and messy issue of transformation. It is a fact that the lack of transformation at national level in sports continues to be a problem and it also impacts negatively even at lowest level of schooling. There are many factors that contribute to this, such as lack of sporting infrastructure, poorly- structured curriculum that excludes sports and the general lack of the will to be physically active.

Recent research statistics revealed worrying news that our country is undergoing rapid socioeconomic and demographic changes that have triggered a rapid obesity in both adults and children and is becoming a threat to our economy and families. It says the number of South Africans suffering from obesity has more than doubled in six years. There is an urgent need to introduce campaigns that promote the culture of physical activity, banning of unhealthy food marketing especially to children.

In Russia we learnt that children are trained from early ages. It is traditional culture among the Russians to take children as young as five (5) years for training in various sports such as gymnastics, shooting, boxing, trampoline jumping and sword fencing. Children train every day for the entire week, and are only given a chance to rest one day in the week.

Russia built world class Sports Complexes across the country that are used for training by citizens for Olympic Games. These facilities are mostly 4000 square meters. Such advanced infrastructure is needed in South Africa and could largely assist our country’s national sporting codes as children sporting talents and skills could be identified at early stages. Also, building sporting infrastructure in previously disadvantaged schools and communities would ensure enforcement of the transformation agenda by sport and recreation sector.

We must take the lessons learnt from Russia very serious. The NDP strongly encourages sport and physical education in our schools. It says that all schools should develop and maintain sport infrastructure; that all communities should have access to sports facilities, encourages the formation of amateur leagues. Unfortunately, we have not yet done justice to the implementation of NDP goals on sporting and physical education is delayed.

Evidence highlights the impact of sport in creating stronger communities and responsible youth by addressing issues of community safety, including reducing anti-social behaviour and the propensity to commit crime.

Last year the former Education Minister Hon. Dr Blade Nzimande unveiled a youth-driven physical education programme here in Pietermaritzburg, where 160 Sports students from TVETs started their Work Integrated Learning in various primary schools across KwaZulu-Natal as sport coaches in Physical Education. It is disappointing that this potential project seems to have been neglected due to poor management and lack of funds.

Our local government could learn a lot from the Russian federation which is very much involved in sporting plans and activities from national government to all regions of the country. This ensures sport management synergy between National and Local Government as they are working together to achieve common objective by sharing of resources and funding in order to ensure that objectives of government both at national and local level are achieved.

Russia also ensures that a budget of more than R5 Billion Russian Rubbies out of the total budget, is channelled towards sports. This funding is to be used to cater for a variety of sports across the country.

As South Africans we should pay particular attention to increasing budgeting for sporting infrastructure and resources if our country is serious about changing national teams’ performance and results, fast track transformation, promote physical activeness and fight reduce obesity. Our government should ensure that there is balance between schooling and sporting.

I thank you