Two senior sports administrators based in Grahamstown say the improved transformation targets hailed by Minister of Sport and Recreation Tokozile Xasa this week are empty.
Xasa released the Eminent Person’s Group (EPG) Transformation Report in Pretoria on Monday 7 May. During the announcement of the report, she praised the progress made by a number of federations towards representative percentages of black African players.
Phumzile Adam, a non-racial sport activist and former player who is now a rugby coach and administrator as part of the South-Eastern Rugby Union (Sedru), believes that there is little to praise in transformation of sport in town. “The transformation percentages the minister is praising and proud of are mostly players from former Model C and private schools. I don’t know how can she be proud of such a situation,” said Adam.
Adam pointed towards the lack of development in township schools and the greater community. “How can you expect a rugby boy from Nathaniel Nyaluza or Mary Waters to be selected in the trials against the well resourced and equipped boys from [local private schools]? Both township schools are passionate about rugby, but they have absolutely nothing; no playing fields nor equipment,” said Adam.
Grahamstown Cricket Board (GCB) and SA Rural Cricket President Leon Coetzee echoed these concerns. “Facilities need to be upgraded, to be provided, in order for those boys to learn sport, and from there you can actually assist these [learners]to develop their skills,” said Coetzee, who is also a Cricket SA Board member . “You have to have facilities, you’ve got to have a field to play on, you have to have a coach. You have to have all of that in place [if the schools are going to be equal].”
Coetzee believes local and other tiers of government should be involved in providing these facilities and maintaining them. “It’s the municipality’s responsibility. We should have communal grounds, with cricket nets, with wickets, etc. We had a 2003 Cricket World Cup legacy stadium. Cricket South Africa gave R800 000, and a cricket pitch was laid. One rain storm came, the wall fell and the pitch was gone. [There has been] no money from the municipality to repair it,” said Coetzee.
Adam, who has active in Sedru since 1975, agreed that the government should be involved in the development of township sport in this regard. “The government in collaboration with the private sector should play a vital role in terms of creating a conducive atmosphere for black players to develop by providing adequate sports facilities, modern sport equipment, scientific physios, etc.,” said Adam.
Despite this, Coetzee remains positive about the state of transformation in the country. “All the cricket clubs in Grahamstown embraced the transformation issue, and the Eastern Province Grahamstown Cricket Board team has got enough black players, they’ve got coloured players, they’ve got white players, so there’s acceptance of your ability,” said Coetzee. “It’s not transformation for the sake of transformation.”
Adam echoed this statement when the talk of transformation started in 1993. He said, “skin colour shouldn’t play any role in the selection of a player. It’s only what he can offer that counts.” He stated, though, that this can only happen after all sectors are given equal opportunities and facilities. “Our cry in the non-racial struggle was ‘There cannot be normal sport in an abnormal society’.”
Both Adam and Coetzee, who is the Principal of Grahamstown Primary School, agree that schools should therefore be the focus of transformation in sport.
“School sport is the key to non-racial transformation,” Adam said. “South Africans irrespective of race, colour or creed need to work together for a better future for all.”