R525m plan to unlock sports talent

The government is to plough R525 million into a mass participation sports programme in a bid to break down the barriers preventing disadvantaged children from developing into world-class athletes.

Sketching the plan during his budget vote debate yesterday, Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula said SA must follow the example of Australia, and embark on a 20-year plan of focusing on school sports if it wanted to drastically change the sporting landscape.

Minister of Sport and Recreation Fikile Mbalula. Photo: Duif du Toit. Credit: Gallo Images

“We can’t expect our rugby team to produce the results we demand when our young people in the townships are not playing rugby… and when children in Model C schools are enjoying advantages in coaching which they do not enjoy,” Mbalula told Parliament.

A priority of his department was to develop and unlock the potential grassroots talent, to nurture such talent and sports skills, and to “ultimately produce athletes with an international competitive edge”.