Mbalula wants passion from athletes
Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula said money does not define success at the Olympic Games, but rather the spirit of determination and drive by South African athletes.
“Spirit, courage, resilience and loyalty to South Africa is what will win medals at the end of the day,” he said in Johannesburg on Friday.
“Money does not define the spirit of a winning nation, but the belief of our athletes that they can succeed in London.”
Mbalula was speaking at the announcement of funding to be made available for the South African Olympic team.
The SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) received a total of over R100 million from the sports department and the National Lottery Board (NLB)
The Lottery Board, represented by its chairman, Alfred Nevhutanda, announced a contribution of R73.8 million to Sascoc in preparation for the games.
Mbalula thanked the NLB for its support of Sascoc and said he was grateful for its cash injection ahead of the games.
“We would like to thank the Lottery Board for its sustained commitment towards sports and recreation, and their support in making this dream possible for so many of our athletes,” Mbalula said.
Nevhutanda was thanked for his efforts in securing the money for the athletes, marking 125 days to the start of the sporting spectacle.
He said he was proud to be affiliated with Sascoc and the growing awareness for the athletes who did not benefit from budgets enjoyed by countries such as Australia, the US and the UK.
“Our relationship (with Sascoc) is simple. We ask ourselves: are they doing the right thing? If so, we have a duty to support Sascoc,” Nevhutanda said.
“We don’t just sit down and say we should give them so much, we are serious on the branding and we believe we are one of the largest funders for Sascoc. Therefore our contribution should reflect what we believe the team is capable of.”
The government contributed R34.2 million to Sascoc in preparation for the Games. Sascoc received R26.2 million, with the remainder given to various sports federations.
The SA Football Association got R3 million, Swimming SA R2 million, and SA Hockey, Athletics SA, and the Paralympic team R1
Mbalula said the government had offered its unwavering support to the South African Olympic team.
“We are not looking at London as our success story, we are looking beyond London in terms of our sports and recreation plan to address the deficiencies and difficulties in our sports,” he said.
“We want to make sure all of our sports federations are happy and taken care of.”
SA Hockey's chief executive Marissa Langeni said she was happy with the money set aside to her federation but was still working toward securing additional funds for both the men's and women's teams.
“Straight after this meeting we will be writing to Sascoc to find out what portion of that R26 million is going toward support, especially for the women, and of course the men are also looking to qualify soon,” Langeni said.
The department of sport had also made provision for the women's soccer team, who Mbalula said were becoming a dominant force in Sascoc's ranks.
“Banyana Banyana get the support they deserve. The people come in their droves to support the girls, so I think the country is really proud of their endeavours and who knows, maybe they will come back with a medal,” he said.
“Our girls have proven their worth, and this is a team which went to qualify for the Olympics with little financial support.
“Now let us support the teams that have not been supported before.” – Sapa