Minister calls for improvement in system that identifies talent in sports

While efforts have been made to transform the sports fraternity, Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Zizi Kodwa has called for the development of a framework for the early identification and development of sporting talent.

“We still preside over a divided and ill-defined sports system characterised by fissures of our past. We have no universal access to facilities,” the Minister said on Thursday in Johannesburg.

Addressing the School Sport Indaba, he said by identifying talent early in school, the youth can have the needed support, mentorship, and resources to make it as a professional sportsman or sportswoman.

“This implies the government and other stakeholders making budget available to support identified initiatives. When looking internationally, it is common to see sports stars in their teenage years making their mark in the upper echelons of world sport,” Kodwa said.

According to the EPG 2018 report, the School Sport competition system is currently indicating that there are three streams from which talent is identified and competition is staged.

The Minister said this system is currently not integrated and has some challenges.

“The system shows that there is a government-run school sport system, then there is one model where former Model C schools and private schools compete, this is where most athletes are identified, and then there is a system which the Federations use to stage the tournaments and select national athletes.

“The athletes competing in the Government-run school sport system, come from more 23 000 public schools, majority of which are previously disadvantaged with poor or no sport facilities in place.

“These are the athletes whose system of competition is poorly organized and do not have proper coaching support. The second group are athletes, from the former Model-C schools, including private schools which are properly resourced, with world-class sport facilities and proper coaching support,” the Minister said.

The last group are athletes competing in Federations-staged tournaments, most of whom must have means to attend these events with the majority being from the former Model C schools.

Upon successful competition, these athletes are awarded the National colours and may be eligible for selection into academies and underage national teams.

“Dare I say, we as all stakeholders have failed learners and young people at school and out of school, and we need a theory of change? We need to clearly spell out how School Sport is supposed to work, why it will work, and the conditions required for its successful implementation,” the Minister said.

He said the School Sport Indaba is government’s intervention to revitalise school sport in South Africa.

The Minister noted the need for investment in the development of local expertise, through running of sports academies from foundation phase as well as the establishment of bilateral agreements with other governments for the creation of development opportunities for studies in the different sporting fields like Sports Science.

Kodwa also called for the creation of internship opportunities for graduates in schools and sports clubs.

“The National Sport and Recreation Plan (NSRP) contends that provision and maintenance of facilities forms the foundation of the entire sport and recreation system, therefore if facilities backlogs are not addressed it will be difficult to achieve transformation, sport development and increased participation objectives in sport.

“This situation or reality, therefore, requires all stakeholders to put all hands-on-deck for the future of sport in our country. Only when we all collaborate, will we be able to develop athletes that can successfully compete internationally, and reach our goal of being a winning nation!

“The Department of Sport, Arts and Culture has already undertaken to address the challenge of talent identification by building multipurpose sports courts and outdoor gyms in rural and township communities, which have historically lacked these facilities,” the Minister said.

As part of the legacy projects of the Netball World Cup, multipurpose courts have been built in several communities around the country, including in Hammarsdale in KwaZulu-Natal.

Work is also being done to build netball courts in Cala Secondary School and Mchewula High School in Cala, Eastern Cape.

“There is much being done and much more to do in the country. As I have said, Government cannot do it alone. I would like to applaud all the commercial and community partners that support the work of Government to develop sport at grassroots level,” the Minister said.

Source: South African Government News Agency

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