Transformation ban hits SA’s World Cup Rugby dreams

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

The South African Football Association (Safa) is the only body exempted from a blanket ban on sporting federations bidding for or participating in any major international events.

In a press briefing on Monday, Department of Sports and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula said Safa had reached its transformation quota.

Mbalula’s ban follows the publication of a transformation status report by the Eminent Persons Group (EPG), which found limited transformation across many sporting associations, including Athletics South Africa, SA Rugby (Saru), Cricket South Africa and Netball South Africa.

‘Consider the people behind the numbers’
The ban could affect Saru’s intention to bid for and host the 2023 Rugby World Cup, a process due to kick off at the end of May.

Saru chief executive Jurie Roux has acknowledged the minister’s urgency to address problems regarding transformation, and emphasised that great progress had made in the last three years.

The rugby union said it hoped to discuss the implications of the minister’s decision with him.

The department’s punitive decision will only be reconsidered next year.

The EPG’s report stated that the process to change the demographic profiles in sports structures shouldn’t be so focused on numbers that it lost sight of sportsmen and women’s emotions, dreams, challenges and trauma.

The EPG’s Dr Willie Basson said that while much progress had been made at national level – more than 60% of presidents and 50% of chief executives in most sporting associations are black – the same progress was not reflected provincially.

“They need to break through the barriers ... so that provinces can create the same attitude, values and cultural background,” he said.

Need to improve focus on soccer at schools
Mbalula also spoke of the limited progress of soccer at school level, stating that there has been a poor drive to penetrate and roll out the sport at former Model C and private schools.

He said “the reality that 84% of the country’s under 18-year-old population was black African and only 16% white, coloured and Indian, makes this drive the right thing to do”.

Basson said one didn’t have to be “a rocket scientist to see that the longer you rely on white children as a resource pull, you are going to run into even bigger problem in the next 15 to 20 years”.

The EPG report pointed out that the population comprised a growing young black, coloured and Indian population, but the mortality rate among the white population was projected to decrease from nine million to three million.

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Mosibudi Ratlebjane

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