SASCOC on Saturday elaborated on Team South Africa’s plans for the Rio Olympics next year and beyond to the 2022 Commonwealth Games which will hopefully be staged in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. A total of 10 medals is what SASCOC President Gideon Sam is looking for South Africa to bag at the 2016 Olympics. Sam was speaking at the Olympic governing body’s General Meeting at Olympic House in Johannesburg where 72 of the National Federations, together with the Minister of Sports and Recreation, Fikile Mbalula, Deputy Minister of Sports and Recreation, Gert Oosthuizen, SASCOC CEO, Tubby Reddy, SASCOC Board Members, and other dignitaries gathered.
Sam afforded an opportunity for some Presidents of the National Federations to highlight the inroads they have made in preparation for Rio judging from South Africa’s performance and moving on from the 2014 Commonwealth Games. And most national Federations representatives believe that they are confident that Team South Africa will perform well in Rio. Rowing, Hockey, Sailing, Wresting, Cycling presidents, to mention a few, informed the meeting that 2015 has started on a good note with their athletes performing exceptionally in the various international competitions they have participated in so far.
Sam congratulated all the athletes from different national federations for their excellent performances in international competitions: ‘We are there so we shouldn’t look down upon ourselves. To this effect, are we therefore correct to say we are going for 10 medals in Rio. If we are not confident enough should we reduce the number to five? We are focusing on going to the podium for Olympics. We don’t want mediocrity we want to be the best of the best. We put a plan in place to identify athletes way in advance, support them and we are supporting our coaches to make sure that our athletes are the best. We review our structures regularly to see if they work. If we want to achieve our goals within this quadrennial, we have to follow all processes that make sports succeed.’ Sam informed the meeting that SASCOC continues to be in alliance with countries that they can partner with and use their training camps to prepare the country’s athletes for the Rio Olympics: ‘South African athletes are training in Gemona, Italy to make sure that the top athletes in NFs get the support they need so that they go forward and produce medals at the Olympics.’
Moving even further ahead and certainly, at government level, it seems there is great enthusiasm at the possible hosting of 2022 Commonwealth Games in Durban. Minister Mbalula rendered his support for the hosting of the Games in Durban. He informed the meeting that there are obvious benefits that the country will achieve from hosting these games: ‘Let us support the hosting of these games. Seventy-one countries will be coming to South Africa and this will benefit our nation economically in terms of tourism so let’s support this bid and make it a reality.’
In the same light, the Chairman of the 2022 Commonwealth Games Bid Committee, Mark Alexander informed the meeting that the three main areas that the bid is concentrating on are: Youth Development Strategy – to ensure that at the end of the games South Africa will have empowered youth through skills development and employment which is in alignment with the government’s Youth Programmes and capital costs of facilities are minimal as most of the facilities are available but will simply need an upgrade. Alexander also added that the voting strengths for other Commonwealth Games Federation countries was another important factor considered in selection of sports to be contested during the Commonwealth Games. On another note, Honourable Minister Mbalula touched on issues of transformation and informed the meeting that on 21 April this year, SASCOC and him will be signing a Memorandum of Agreement with Athletics South Africa, Cricket South Africa, Netball South Africa, the South African Football Association and South African Rugby Union respectively on the implementation of transformation barometer and achieving transformation targets.
On the same day, Mbalula will announce the Transformation Barometer for 2014 with an additional 12 sporting codes and SASCOC and SRSA will sign MoAs with them as well in July 2015. The Transformation Report will be submitted to Cabinet, Parliamentary Portfolio Committee and MINMEC and transformation should be tackled at all levels and from all corners. In relation to funding for sport, Mbalula highlighted the urgent need to consolidate all revenue streams, resources and funding from within the public and private sector: ‘We need a funding model that is dedicated, consolidated for strategic national priorities. The private sector funding and resource commitment to sport must not be charitable or limited Corporate Social Investment. SASCOC and the Department must put together a small team to discuss a long term and sustainable model for sport. The Team must also deal with the long awaited sports economy as well as a case for sport perspective document.’
The Honourable Minister also touched on the importance of Recognition of Excellence and South African Sports Awards. The main issues highlighted on this matter were: the review of the federation of the year award criteria to include transformation barometer targets as one of the requirements, review of the voting model for the sportsman or sportswoman of the year and any teams or athletes participating in continental and international championships campaigning abroad and winning will be recognised by the Ministry as a group on a semester basis. The Honourable Minister concluded his speech by informing the meeting that there is a need for an urgent meeting between SASCOC and SRSA to provide direction and clarity to the sector on Academy system,
National symbols and compliance and Regulations for registration and deregistration of sports bodies. Sam concluded the assembly by giving feedback on the Provincial Roadshows that took place recently, the main aim of which is to gauge the progress of sport in the various provinces. He highlighted that one of the areas that will be modified is the issue of disputes: ‘We are dismantling our commission for disputes and clear guidelines and procedures will be set to address disputes. Stop all disputes and sort it out yourselves in your NFs. We can’t be spending most of our time dealing with disputes, instead, we should use that time to develop sport.’