The science of sport

Demystifying science and technology for South Africa’s youth through sport and recreation is the objective of a Science and Technology in Sport conference, which takes place at Insite 2008.

A joint initiative by the Department of Science and Technology, the Department of Sport and Recreation and Pambili Productions, the conference will take place on September 16 and will highlight the role science and technology plays in sport, focusing on the youth and the 2010 World Cup.

Dr Phil Mjwara, Science and Technology Director General, says his department has identified the need for science and technology to be made accessible to the country’s youth and to recognise sport and recreation as a platform for this to be achieved. “The objectives of the Science and Technology in Sport conference align perfectly with Insite 2008, where the youth will be targeted in order to address the critical skills shortage in the science and technology sectors,” says Mjwara.

His thoughts are echoed by Xoliswa Sibeko, Director General in the Department of Sport and Recreation.
“There’s no doubt that first class sport scientific support makes the difference between winning on the playing field and ending up with no medals. South Africa is blessed with a tertiary education [system] and, inter alia, a sport science infrastructure that is on par with the best in the world,” she says.

“However, we still see a gap between science and sport. Opportunities presented by the Science and Technology in Sport conference, are therefore welcomed. As a department responsible for sport and recreation, we see our involvement as a necessary contribution to the development of sport in our country and hope that our sport people will take advantage of this opportunity.”

Sibeko says the department’s core interest in this endeavour is that science in sport must be linked to the national development programme of massifying sport participation among previously disadvantaged communities.

“It should be one of the programmes linked to the 2010 World Cup legacy initiatives we will showcase to the world in 2010,” she says.

The conference also aims to grow the culture of research in science and technology for sports in Africa and export the indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) in sports to foreign markets.

A drawcard will be an address by world-renowned sports academic Professor Tim Noakes and former Springbok rugby coach Jake White titled “Why the Springboks won the Rugby World Cup 2007 and lessons for Bafana Bafana toward 2010”.

Noakes will also be signing his book, co-written with Bob Woolmer, Discovering Cricket: The Art and Science of the Game.

Topics of discussion will include “The strategy on uniting African broadcasters for 2010 and Africa’s development at large”, “2010: Migration of technology — tele­communications and broadcast”, “2010: Municipalities and sports technical teams”, “Gender lens” and “Introducing IKS into sports”, as well as “Creating indigenous models of producing winning sportsmen in South Africa”.

There will also be contributions from Dr Mike Bruton, who will host demonstrations on the science of cricket, football and golf, and from Dr Tony Kirkbride, head: CSIR technology centre, who will host a demonstration on the CSIR’s science and technology sports research.

The SABC will broadcast live from the Sandton Convention Centre through Radio 2000. A panel discussion will also take place at the exhibition and will be broadcast on SABC Sport.

Sizwe Nzimande, head of sports at the SABC, says the broadcaster is embarking on a campaign highlighting its readiness for broadcasting the 2010 Soccer World Cup. “As part of this, we are adopting innovative technologies such as our outside broadcast high definition vans. As we are the official broadcaster for 2010, we are tasked to bring the highest quality of broadcasting to the nation through these technologies. The objectives of Insite 2008 and the Science and Technology in Sport conference fall squarely within our goal to bring the best technologies to 2010, and we are pleased to be the media partner for this important event.”

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