Durban - The South African Local Government Association (Salga) in KwaZulu-Natal is calling for a national effort to revive grassroots sports development.
The 2022 Salga KZN Games will see the youth from 10 districts competing in Amajuba District (Newcastle) from December 8 to 11 in 16 sporting codes which includes netball, athletics, basketball, swimming, indigenous games, chess, karate, rugby, tennis, boxing, volleyball and football.
Provincial chairperson Thamsanqa Ntuli, who is also the mayor of King Cetshwayo District, said the Salga games have traditionally been the centrepiece of mayoral efforts to promote sports in KZN.
However, Ntuli said that with the arrival of Covid-19 pandemic, Salga had to suspend the games and their selection meetings at a local level.
He said sports programmes in local municipalities lost momentum during this time, and mayoral cups had no upper structure to aim to qualify for.
Ntuli said, over the years, the Salga games have led many youths to get scouted by professional teams, earn provincial colours, improve rankings, and be selected to attend high-performance centre training.
“Mayors are critical to the success of grassroots development, especially when some sports codes do not have club-level development structures. Mayors must therefore look beyond the direct costs associated with hosting and look at the economic spin-offs that occur for the host municipality and the impact that sport has in the fight against social ills, health and safety, and stable households,” he said.
He said when young people engage in a sport and have productive habits, they become role models even for young people in other career paths.
Ntuli said mayors, in partnership with Salga and the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, must take on the burden of giving hope to rural youths in these trying times.
“We thank municipalities for the wonderful work they have already done to prepare the youth for the upcoming provincial KZN Salga Games, and we understand that they have done so under stringent financial conditions since, as Salga in KwaZulu-Natal, we have always lamented that local government is underfunded. We are calling for more funds to be afforded to municipalities to support youth development,” he said.