JOHANNESBURG – In its concluding remarks about cricket’s demographic transformation, the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) states that “cricket achieved 74 percent of its ‘self-set’ targets in 2017, which is well above the 50 percent required.”
That sounds good.
One member of the EPG, Willie Basson - an acting president of Cricket South Africa (CSA) a few years ago - said that cricket and rugby’s administrators had shown in the last 18 months that they are not just talking about transformation, but “living,” it.
The Minister of Sport and Recreation, Tokozile Xasa, in her remarks about the report, made specific reference to CSA’s engagement with BBBEE compliant companies, which according to Xasa made up 99 percent of all CSA’s procurement spend.
Thabang Moroe, CSA’s CEO and Maxwell Jordaan - a senior manager responsible for transformation - were both in the audience on Tuesday when the report was made public, and both were seen smiling. For CSA, and Moroe in particular, it was a bit of good news after a difficult few weeks dealing with the bitter fallout between CSA’s administrators and the country’s players over the restructuring of the domestic game.
But just how good is that news really?
A dig into some of the numbers shows the EPG wasn’t entirely happy with CSA and in fact is very concerned for the federation and the sport in this country.
The report does outline how CSA can’t fix all of its problems. In fact the three-volume document is a rather damning indictment of the Government. The inability for governmental departments to work together, the fact that the Department of Education can’t source proper statistics about sport for a large percentage of the country’s schools and local government’s inability to even provide minimal assistance for the upkeep of facilities, were all noted as concerns.
The EPG was extremely critical of cricket for underachieving its own targets for the senior national men's and women's teams last year.
For the men, the black player component was 56 percent representative, below the 60 percent threshold set in the Transformation Charter and for the women it was 45 percent. The report stated that CSA’s ‘self-set’ targets for representation “may need to be reviewed if cricket’s Black African representation challenge is to be effectively dealt with.”
Minister of Sport and Recreation South Africa (SRSA), Ms Tokozile Xasa and Chairperson of the Eminent Persons Group #EPG Transformation in Sport Mr Happy Ntshingila, briefing members of the media at the sixth release of the EPG Report pic.twitter.com/Otlo62dwPL— South African Government (@GovernmentZA) April 23, 2019
One aspect that the EPG placed a high emphasis on this year was planning for the future. In previous Basson years, after analysing the statistics, the talk was about sports federations needing to be cognisant of the demographic changes taking place in the country in order for their sporting code to survive.
That point was pressed home more this year than previously and cricket, which has always been heavily reliant on schools from where it draws its talent, is very much facing a problem - unless it can extend its footprint beyond private schools and former Model C institutions.
According to the report about 11 percent of primary schools and nine percent of secondary schools participated in cricket - a worryingly low figure.
With the various financial limitations it is currently facing, the challenges for CSA in acknowledging and dealing with the problems highlighted by the EPG will be vast.@shockerhess