Remember the 1995 Rugby World Cup, or the the 2003 Cricket World Cup, who will ever forget the 2010 Soccer World Cup? South Africa has done a fine job in hosting major global tournaments, well dear readers that is all coming to an abrupt end thanks to our very competent Sport minister named Fikile Mbalu, who oddly enough we wrote an article about just 3-days ago called – “is this the final nail in the coffin for South African rugby?”
One of the few positives left in South Africa is our sport teams but even this is now affected by bad governance. The Minister of Sport, Fikile Mbalula, has literally made South Africa the laughing stock of the world yesterday with some ridiculous remarks. Fikile Mbalu never shy of the limelight, made headlines across the globe, by announcing none of South Africa’s major sporting unions (with the exclusion of soccer) are allowed to make a bid to host another major global sporting tournament again. Why? Because of one ridiculous word, “transformation.” The news send ripples across the sporting world, with international athletes such as Jacques Kallis saying he is , “ashamed to be a South African” when asked about Mbalula’s comment.
According to Mr Fikile Mbalula the pace at which transformation is happening is to slow (remember he supports selection based on colour rather than merit), as a “punishment,” for slow transformation, a ban on bidding for major global sporting tournaments will get enforced. Sad news indeed, especially for rugby fans since South Africa was frontrunners to host the 2023 rugby world cup. A more immediate concern for rugby fans however, and this goes for global rugby fans aswell, is the fact that the South African government will no longer support the Cape Town 7’s, which is one of the largest rugby 7’s tournaments in the world.
So why make such a big deal about transformation?
You see Mr Fikile, backed by the South African government, argues that all national teams representing South Africa, should also represent the racial demographics of South Africa. The irony however is that South Africa’s soccer team, called Bafanna Bafanna ranked 80th something in the world, consistently fields only black African players, with very little to no inclusion of White Africans or Indians, yet they (the South African soccer team) are not getting reprimanded in anyway, but rather praised for their team selection. Is this not hypocrisy in its greatest form?
As the author I could I could go on whining and complaining about SA soccer (Bafana, Bafana) selection policy and lack of proper demographical representation within the team, but I’m not petty like that, I don’t care which colour the team is, you see myself just like all other South Africans want a team selected on merit. If merrit means fielding a Springbok (South African) rugby team that is made up of 15 black players, then so be it and myself and most South Africans will say “Go Bokke” providing that 15-players were selected on merit.
Its Not About Winning
The whole point of playing sport, and competing against another team is to win. When you are not fielding your best team, but rather selecting a team based on quotas your chances of winning gets exponentially lower thus, I will not be surprised if South Africa never wins a test against New Zealand rugby ever again, due to SA Rugby’s new selection policy.
You see the sad part about the above is that our minister of Sport and his government allies couldn’t care less if South Africa never wins a test again. For them it is not about winning but rather about bragging in election campaigns that, “we managed to increase transformation by X-amount.” Sadly for them the winner at the end of the day is not the team with the greater score on the scoreboard but rather the team with the most black faces in the starting lineup.
SA Government United In Dividing South Africans
As mentioned in the introduction of this post, sport in South Africa is one of the few things which is still working, it serves as the great unifier between black and white South Africans, think 1995 Rugby World Cup, 2010 Soccer World Cup, black and white South Africans were united in their diversity, drinking, laughing and dancing together.
But you see dear readers this is not what the government, which is the ANC (African National Congress) wants. Why, you might ask if they fought for so many years to get equality and equal opportunity for all?
The answer is simple, the ANC of today is not the respected establishment it once was. All the real leaders has either gone, or switched political parties, the only card the ANC has left to play is the race card thus, they will go to great lengths to divide South Africans as it is the only way they are able to stay in power, that is why you hear increasing calls to rename the Springbok rugby team and banning the hosting of global tournaments.
Conclusion – Undoing The Wrongs Of The Past
Are we at the Sport Freak against transformation in South African sport? Of Course not, but we do condone taking away opportunity from a player and selecting a different player simply based on the colour of his skin since that is racial discrimination in its strongest form! It is a crying shame that the IRB has not stepped in to prevent this in South African rugby since it is a clear violation of By Law 3 of The IRB rule book. (Read more about that here.)
Transforming SA Sport
I will leave you with this, it is not very complicated, to transform South African sports, don’t start at the top of the pyramid, i.e. national and provincial level. Rather take the money you wish to spend on transformation and put it into underprivileged schools and communities, which will ensure transformation happens at the grass root level giving the youth of underprivileged communities an equal opportunity to become a professional sportsman one day.
By doing this you will not only strengthen South African sports as a whole, since you will have a much larger pool of players to select from, but you will also ensure that when provincial and national selection happens everyone will have an equal opportunity and that is what democracy is all about.
*The Views in this article are purely those of the Author.*