Yesterday the self-proclaimed greatest minister to ever grace the world of Social Media, Fikile Mbalula, pretty much took the opportunity of watching a massive sporting event in Cricket, Soccer, Rugby and Netball away from South African Sports fans. It bodes an obvious question, is punishing the South Africans fans the way to resolve this?
Now I know that the transformation progress has been significantly slow and under applied throughout South African sport. Targets have been put in place, but the reality is that the pipeline is under developed and as such Quotas have become a necessity. I choose not to enter the debate regarding whether quota’s are correct or not as I believe the hand has been pushed somewhat.
Now Mr Mbalula, the man who can fly across the world to watch the most expensive sporting event in history, has announced that the aforementioned sporting codes will not be allowed to bid for major sporting events. This includes the likes of the Rugby 7’s, the Diamond Cup of Netball, the Cricket World T20 and of course the 2023 Rugby World Cup. A lack of these major events is not robbing the unions that are not meeting their transformation targets, but rather robbing South Africans of witnessing the best of the best.
Lets be real for a second, the weakness of the rand means that traveling across the globe is becoming too expensive for most South Africans to go and pay exorbitant rates for tickets, beers and snacks to watch their National team take on the best. The most realistic option is for most South Africans to watch the World’s best is for us to host an event. Not only that, but our country rallies behind our national teams and you only have to look at how we rejoiced together with Francois, cheered together with Neil and danced together with Philip, at least well he was here, to see the evidence of this. Lets take away that rallying cry and rather release something that so obviously will cause anger and further differences between already torn South Africans. And I wont even begin to talk about the economic downside of this plan.
Many stories have been told how Bryan Habana was inspired by the Springboks in 1995 and he has since become one of the greatest Springboks, including our highest ever try scorer. Will we lack the opportunity to inspire the children of today to be the heroes of tomorrow. Surely this is not something even worth taking a chance at. Our pipeline is already underdeveloped and we are strangling it further.
Mr Mbalula, I am not asking you to ignore transformation, but please can you explain how taking away our opportunity to watch great sporting events is punishing Oregon Hoskins and Jurie Roux (who will still earn Millions and go watch the Rugby World Cup)? Please explain how it punishes Athletics SA officials who will still be flown to Rio to watch the Olympics with cost covered? Please explain how it punishes Netball South Africa and their trips to Australia for the Netball fives? Please explain how it punishes Cricket South Africa who will send officials to World T20’s, Champions Trophies and probably even the IPL?
Transformation is incredibly important in South African sport and it is imperative we get it right. How about we start something that is not that common in South Africa, how about we start holding the people responsible accountable for their actions? You say that South African Rugby are not meeting their transformation targets, then why not hold the people there responsible. Why not hold the Cricket South Africa board responsible? Why hold the South African public responsible?