Minister Xasa: Major sports were showing progress in terms of transformation, but more can be done. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/backpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – South Africa’s major sports were showing progress in terms of transformation, but Sports Minister Tokozile Xasa called for more to be done to make sure equity was achieved.

Xasa was speaking at the release of the fifth Eminent Persons Group (EPG) report on transformation in South African Sport on Monday, where she addressed presidents and chief executives of different codes at Parliament.

“These reports… have contributed significantly to understanding and qualifying those factors impacting the rate and extent of sport’s transformation initiatives,” Xasa said. “These reports… have shown there is light at the end of the transformation tunnel.”

The report relies mostly on data from 2016, and did not accurately reflect the rate of transformation from the last year.

“Year on year change in the black demographic profile of senior representative teams demonstrates the progress made over a short period,” Xasa said. “Cricket’s percentage black profile has improved from 45 to 60 percent, hockey from 20 to 45 percent, whereas rugby has moved from 34 to 42 percent and netball from 37 to 56 percent.”

Most of the statistics in the report showed the relationship between the rate of improvements compared to the Department of Sport and Recreation’s own charter, which is set at a demographic target of 60 percent generic black (black African, coloured and Indian).

The report gives a skewed view of the progress, as it does not show how the federation was performing against self-set targets.

The barometer is seen as a more accountable transformation performance measurement instrument involving the original five pilot codes of athletics, cricket, football, netball and rugby.

According to the report, rugby, cricket, football and netball achieved more than 50 percent of their self-set targets, while athletics did not achieve more than 50 percent.

Jurie Roux: Rugby is succeeding in the transformation process, and we’re pleased with the outcomes of the EPG report. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

Rugby was the top-performing code on the barometer, reaching 60 percent of their self-set targets and showing a 17 percent improvement.

“Rugby is succeeding in the transformation process, and we’re pleased with the outcomes of the EPG report,” SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux said in a statement.

“We’re proud of the fact that rugby was the top performing federation from the five sports that were part of the pilot project in terms of transformation – we have worked hard to achieve our targets. We remain on track to deliver on our five-year Strategic Transformation Plan (STP), which we launched in 2015.”

Roux said that the report highlighted that the greatest challenge to South African sports federations – rugby included – was the state of school sport.

“The report notes that only eight percent of learners in South Africa’s 25 000 public schools have any kind of access to sport,” Roux said.

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Xasa admitted the existing school system has become the ‘Achilles heel’ of South African sport.

“To address these and other issues, the existing MOU between SRSA and DBE (Department of Basic Education) is in the process of being reviewed to address the challenges preventing the establishment of a co-ordinated and seamless school sports system, to improve access and delivery of school sport,” Xasa said.

“Once completed and agreed, the effective implantation of this MOU will ensure a functional school sports system that will form a robust foundation for the successful transformation of sport in the country.”

Xasa said the department would fight Solidarity and AfriForum’s court challenge against transformation with all its might.

“I’ve directed to defend this case by all the might the State has. We cannot afford to lose this case, it is of such national importance in a sense that we can potentially reverse the gains since democracy for the underprivileged majority,” Xasa said.

“I’ve further directed the Director-General to assemble a senior and capable legal team to defend what is necessary to secure the future of the country.”

IOL Sport

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