Hon Mr NP Msimango, MPL KZN Legislature
Members of the Executive,
Honourable members and Colleagues,
Officials from the Department of Sports and Recreation,
Dignitaries and visitors – I warmly greet you today.
Emil Zátopek a Czechoslovak long-distance runner best known for winning three gold medals at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Finland once said “An athlete cannot run with money in his pockets. He must run with hope in his heart and dreams in his head.”
This is so true when one considers the role that the Department of Sports and Recreation has to play in giving hope to our athletes.
The IFP acknowledges the budget of R463.590million allocated to the Department and urges the department to spend wisely in order to achieve its strategic objectives.
Since maximising access to sport, recreation and physical education in every school in KZN is one of the strategic goals of this department, it is of utmost importance that we begin at school level to instil a love for sports.
23 years after our first democratic elections, the ANC government has done little to redress the legacy of apartheid spatial planning with regards to the provision of sports facilities.
The IFP, as part of its founding values, upholds and cherishes diversity. We want all sporting teams to reflect all the people who call South Africa home.
We want this to be done by the sustained and rapid development of sporting infrastructure, and grassroots development in those communities who still carry the burden of decades of underinvestment in sports facilities.
We know that if children are given equal opportunities to pursue the code that they are talented in and given fair opportunities to compete and prove their excellence against their peers, then every provincial and national team would reflect our beautiful nation.
Funding remains a big challenge for young athletes to attend trial games; training camps and eventually to go on tournaments as the cost of it is too high. The result is that only the privileged few can attend these tournaments and therefore move onto higher levels. The rural areas are mostly affected as everything is held in areas where they have to travel long distances.
Twenty-three years after democracy, schools in poorer communities, still lack the sporting infrastructure. This is an issue that needs to be rectified as a priority if we are serious and committed about sport being an agent of social change and developing all the communities of country.
The IFP calls for more organisations to use sport as a tool for social integration and inclusion and to highlight the importance of promoting the positive values of sport to young people. Sport has a special power to change the lives of people around the world – to promote peace and to unite people beyond regions and beyond all perceived barriers. Sport has no borders and is universal. Through sport, we can speak the same language. For me, sport is a powerful tool for social integration and inclusion and more organisations should embrace sport as a positive platform that can benefit society.
I believe that sport is a perfect vehicle to promote social inclusion of minorities and other vulnerable or disadvantaged groups. It can also be instrumental in combating violence through community- based projects and promoting reconciliation, peace, tolerance, and co-existence.
Honourable Chairperson, gender equity will not happen by itself. We have to work for it and speak out against discrimination. It is important that we create an enabling environment for female athletes and sports administrators to prosper. Female athletes are under-represented in the leadership of sports federations. They are too under-resourced to compete fairly against counterparts from the rest of the world. Such oversight needs to be addressed without delay.
We further call on the KZN Department of Education to invest in building schools in rural areas that have adequate sports facilities. Municipalities have a vital role to play in regard to providing recreational facilities that will encourage communities to become more physically active. It is common knowledge that obesity is a modern day disease. But this can be cured through the provision of suitable recreation facilities within communities. In this regard the IFP urges communities to take ownership of recreation facilities and protect them from vandalisation.
The IFP is of the view that there must be funding allocated for the training of specialist physical education and teachers and outstanding sportspersons who would then go out and promote sports at our schools. The purpose of this is to equip talented, outstanding sportspersons, coaches, etc with the latest techniques of training, coaching and research so that, in the years to come, KwaZulu-Natal could build a pool of experts who could impart training skills and handle national level sports events. If we want to professionalise sports in KZN, we need to change the current situation and mind set of people, and provide schools with the necessary funding to hire qualified sports teachers.
The IFP proposes that there must also be a national welfare fund for sportspersons primarily to assist outstanding sportspersons of past years who brought glory for the country in sports, but are, unfortunately now living in indigent circumstances.
If KZN athletes are to realise their true potential and excel at the highest level, then basic sports facilities such as standard football fields, suitable boxing rings at various areas, standard netball courts and athletics tracks should be availed to athletes in all KZN constituencies.
The MEC knows that good sports facilities are essential for sports development, therefore her department must continue to invest in the construction and maintenance of facilities to create a conducive environment. Sport has the potential to open hearts and motivate young people to take part in activities relevant for personal and social development.
Government needs to have a workable policy framework through which talent can be identified and promoted as early as primary school and nurture those talents for the country to produce more professional athletes. If we can’t put up mechanisms in place to help us scout, nurture sports and develop children at a young age, we will not be able to have professional sports personalities in any discipline.
We urge government to do what it can, in terms of building infrastructure, but we also think it’s high time that private investors looked into such opportunities for the professionalisation of sports in the province.
The IFP calls on all KZN people and government to embrace and support different sport codes especially those that remain in the shadows of soccer in the country. Different sport codes in the country and also in the province should start enjoying the limelight so that they can become popular amongst athletes as well as spectators. For example, the art of Karate is undoubtedly one of the best in the country as it allows athletes to safely showcase their skills without having to break a sweat in the gym. Karate is perceived as a fighting and unsafe sport as depicted in the movies but we are saying it is the exact opposite.
When we talk about Karate most of us only know karate from movies when watching Bruce-Lee, Chuck Norris and of most of the time it is about fighting. Karate is not about fighting so I am calling on parents to bring more children to come to the clubs and join Karate because it teaches people to be disciplined and to focus. Kids are not taught to fight anybody, they are taught to have self-discipline and to defend themselves if the needs arises.
We want to see this department taking golf to rural areas and disadvantaged urban communities in KZN, where this sport has little to no visibility. The sport which has always been known as an elitist sport in Africa where there is little to no chance for some communities to even get a glimpse of the game must now be promoted to disadvantaged and economically poor communities across the province.
It’s high time that the huge rural sporting talent gets its due, from all stake holders including the government, the public, and sports bodies.
Honourable Chairperson, since ancient times sports has been considered as a means to remain fit. All across the globe, ancient scriptures talk of different types of sports and its impact on human health. Sport and physical activity helps in the prevention and cure of certain diseases. It not only lowers the risk of disease, it can also slow progression and promote recovery. Physical activity during sports contributes to building bone, muscle strength and balance, and reduces the risk of fractures from falling. This aids independent living and reduces the need for institutionalised care for the elderly.
Some of the ailments that sports addresses are:
1 Preventable cardiovascular diseases, such as coronary heart disease;
2 High blood pressure;
5 Cancers, most notably, colon cancer and breast cancer;
There is also evidence that physical activity and sport addresses the concerns of psychological health and resists depression. Getting involved in sporting and recreational activities are means to increase self-esteem and well-being.
Sport also creates social capital which contributes to community development. This is essentially achieved due to the inherent benefits of sporting activity and includes Leadership training, developing communication and Tolerance skills, instilling Respect and encouraging Team work and Participation.
Since sport and exercise can provide focal points for civic engagement, they can be important in the revitalisation of civil society.
Sports infrastructure plays a crucial role in achieving excellence in the global arena of sports. It not only helps in producing sportspersons of international repute, but also encourages the youth population of a country to participate in sporting activities to create a culture of sports. In KZN, the standard of sports infrastructure is not at a satisfactory level for a number of reasons. In view of this the IFP is happy to see that the department plans to build 68 sports and recreation facilities in this financial year. Through the portfolio committee we will get to know where these facilities will be built and we will monitor the progress so as to ensure that the correct standards are maintained and that the work is completed as planned.
The IFP acknowledges the work being done by the academy system as this is an appropriate vehicle to identify and nurture talent at a young age,
The lack of infrastructural facilities is one of the major impediments in the process of development of sports in KZN schools. It is a pity that a majority of children going to schools in KZN do not get the opportunity to take part in sports due to the lack of infrastructure or even open spaces. Who will solve this? A joint effort is needed.
We are encouraged that eight schools have been identified as sports focus schools and that they will form part of the sports academy. We will also be monitoring the performance of these schools.
The talent of the youth must be spotted and promoted through various sports activities. Our youth possess great talent and Government must try its best to spot and explore the talented youth across the province.
Hon Chairperson, I would like to end with this quote from Mary Lou Retton Kelley a retired American gymnast who once said “As simple as it sounds, we all must try to be the best person we can: by making the best choices, by making the most of the talents we’ve been given. Many medal winners dream of competing in a sport other than the one they’re famous for.”
I thank You