Billions needed for sports development plan

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Johannesburg - A whopping R10 billion is needed to take the country sport to a competitive level on the international stage, Gideon Sam said on Tuesday.

The Sascoc president was speaking at the announcement that South African Airways (SAA) would be the carrier of the country's teams to multi-sport events through to the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“It took us time to put a plan together as a ministry and the sports movement. We have costed that plan and we know exactly how much it will cost to make South Africa a powerhouse in sport,” Sam said ahead of the team's departure for Glasgow on Wednesday.

“All we are waiting for is for government to come to the party and to sign on the dotted line, and to say 'here is your money, live out your dreams'.”

Sam said R10 billion was the minimum needed to implement the National Sports Development Plan which had been drawn up in 2011.

“The money allow us to build some iconic facilities once we have a hold on the money that is in the municipal infrastructure development budget.

“It is for over a five-year period that would allow us to do the things we want to do. Our own audit tells us that there are facilities that need to be revamped.”

Sam said that although Sascoc understood the country had other important socio-economic issues to deal with, sports development and infrastructure investment was also needed.

“Those priorities will always be there but as a sports movement, together with the ministry, we want our cut,” he said.

“The athletes who go to represent us cannot dig into their own pockets to make it happen. It is our responsibility as a sports movement to make it possible for them to get there.”

The R10 billion that Sam was calling for was small change compared with some of the big performing nations at the Olympics.

Great Britain for example, who hosted the 2012 London Olympic Games, spent an estimated £4.5 million (approximately R81m) per medal for their 65-medal haul.

UK Sport, the body which distributes money to Olympic and Paralympic sports in the UK, has dedicated £125 million (approximately R2.25 billion) per year to achieving continued success.

“We are asking that amount because we understand that if we are going to get the youth of this country to come to its right, we need to give them these services,” Sam said.

“We have to make sure they participate in sport then all these other ills will be dealt with.

“We are not asking for peanuts, we have been standing at the corner with our begging bowls for too long.”

Meanwhile, the three-year SAA sponsorship is in the form of air tickets, which would enable participating athletes and officials to fly to various sports destinations in the 2014 to 2016 period, leading up to the Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Sapa


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