Tabling his department’s budget to the Cabinet and the country, National Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula, heaped praise on the confidence shown by the Portfolio Committee on Sport, despite the set backs which derail transformation within sport in the country.
For the very first time, Mbalula and his department received backing from opposition representatives, a pad on the shoulder for the Minister whose task has become an eye sore for some.
In his poignant address, the Minister also send his condolences to fallen heroes and heroines of the ruling party, whom some were ardent sport supporters and champions of transformation.
The Mass Participation Programme received R525 million, whose role is to cater for various schools sporting codes; club development and hubs, whereas the re-energised School’s Sport budget increased substantially to R42.6million.
Sport Support Services Programme received R187.3 million. This is mainly for sport federations in development projects. Hopefully, this would come in handy for the marginalized communities who struggle to neither secure sponsorship nor funding as a result of the geographical standing.
Due to 2010 FIFA World Cup tickets tax refunds, the International Liaison Directorate received R26.6 million. This department’s objective is to work with various international and sporting organizations, for example the London 2012 Olympic Games.
“In this era of hope, we must strive to popularize sport and recreation until we realize our dream of South Africa as a national sporting nation,” says Mbalula.
Five key priorities such as transformation, school’s sport and mass participation, grass-roots talent, sport skills and producing athlete with international edge, were announced during the first Sport Indaba held last year, as part of the National Sport and Recreation Plan implemented by the department.
The Plan seeks to accelerate service delivery, functionality, enhance organizational excellence and coming up with new ideas, amongst others.
According to the Minister, the Plan is an eight year programme, as identified in the White Paper and optional for review in 2020.
Letlapa Mphahlele, AZAPO President, was the first to acknowledge the strenuous circumstances the department finds itself.
“Indeed, we do support strongly what the Minister Mbalula has tabled before us. Despite his department facing enormous challenges and tough stance from those undemocratic, he has build a force to reckon having implemented Commissions and hearings on various sporting codes to come out clean,” he said.
“School’s Sport has been identified as a priority area for delivery by our Department in2012 and 2013. This programme is the ‘bed-rock’ of our Sport Development Strategy and the cornerstone of the National Sport Plan,” echoed the Minister.
The roll-out of the plan is underpinned by physical education, top school leagues and youth Olympics to be held this year. Already, out of 27 000 11 000 have been registered, according to Mbalula.
For the very first-time in the history of sport in SA, the department will in partnership with SALGA, work together to make accessible training facilities e.g. stadiums and training resources to deserving athletes, amongst others.
To cement the relationship the first Municipal Sport and Recreation Conference will be held later this month from May 28 to 29. Venue and other details will be made available soon.
SA has been awarded the international prize for being the best sport tourism destination in the world, says Mbalula. This further entrenches that this country is one of the preferred tourist destination, thus mystifying the belief that its’ unsafe and ‘unGodly’.
On the issue of AFCON 2013, the Minister emphasized that the country is ready and willing to host the spectacle, and that cities such as Soccer City, Durban, Rustenburg, Nelson Mandela Bay(PE), and Mbombela and consequently, in 2014 of which we will be hosting the AFCON again will use Polokwane, CT, Kimberley and Mangaung, respectively.
On the contentious issue of cricket, the Minister have agreed with CSA on the implementation of recommendations to enter into MOA on the implementation of to Ministerial Committee, which would the change landscape of SA sport.
This year, the department will host the 10th Anniversary of the BasketBall without Borders NBA Programme in Africa from August 30 and the National Women and Sport Indaba later in the year.
As one of the success stories of the department, it has devised a turn around strategy plan for Boxing SA, chiefly looking at strengthening financial issues; promotion of female boxers; fair broadcast coverage, amongst others.
Challenges, acrimonies and battles lie ahead when sport federations fail to tow the line but it will only boil to one thing, the Minister taking a hard stance!
Angeke ba lunge… as Mbalula once said.
Ex-MEC for Sport in North West Hlomani Chauke who was a guest, also applauded the National Ministry for treading where others would not dare.