Categorized | Affirmative Action, Sports

Sports needs grassroots transformation, not window dressing – CEO

FikileMbalula

In an article he has penned which was published on www. bizcommunity.com, Ryan Evans, CEO of Accelerate South Africa makes a compelling, rational case for transformation in sports, looking beyond the emotions the topic has generated.

As we all certainly must be aware, the Minister of Sports and Recreation, Fikile Mbalula, recently took the bold decision to ban Athletics South Africa (ASA), Cricket South Africa (CSA), Netball South Africa (NSA) and South African Rugby Union (SARU) from hosting and bidding for major sporting events. The controversial decision has attracted different opinions.

In spite of everything, Evans believes transformation should be a top priority, but its implementation should be beyond window-dressing seeing more “black faces” in national teams.

Instead, he argues, it should mean equal opportunity for every person who wants to participate in their sport of choice. In the latter case, he explains, government’s role should be to ensure that everyone in our country has an equal opportunity to play the sport of their choice by working to create the necessary infrastructure that would allow equal participation at grass roots level.

Transformation should not only mean more black faces in national teams. Instead, Raven suggests, it should mean equal opportunity for every person who wants to participate in their sport of choice. In the latter case, he explains, government’s role should be to ensure that everyone in our country has an equal opportunity to play the sport of their choice by working to create the necessary infrastructure that would allow equal participation at grass roots level.

Ravens cautions about throwing black players in “white” sporting codes into the deep end, which might unwittingly be setting them up for failure as is currently experienced in parastatals. “We have learnt the hard way, in both corporates as well as state-owned enterprises, that transformation simply doesn’t work when senior black personnel are parachuted into leadership positions. Those individuals are often not ready for those roles and it becomes detrimental not only to the organisation but more importantly, to the individuals themselves.”

The right approach to transformation would be to build the required grassroots structures that would create a far larger pool of black sporting talent across all sporting codes, says Ravens.

Given that excellence is the ultimate measure of success, emerging athletes need to be continuously tested against the absolute best in their class in order to become world champions, irrespective of race, and we should all be working together to create such an environment, he adds. “There are no quick fixes to centuries of economic imbalance and trying to force national teams to transform from the top down will only serve to diminish our national sporting capability and heritage.”

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