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Let us transform our sporting codes.
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Cedric Offline

Posts: 108
Joined: Oct 2012
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Let us transform our sporting codes.
(extract from Cedric de la Harpe “grey paper” submitted Oct 2007)

Has South Africa successfully transformed our sporting codes?

While on tour with international visitors in Soweto, our American visitors first opened my eyes to the comparisons that exist in our countries. They will often comment with shock, when they discover that our Soweto children are not playing sport, all keen to give me advise, they will tell me that once the doors were opened to black athletes in America, even though they were in the minority, they started to dominate the American Sport scene, motivated by the potential earnings that were available, based on their own individual abilities and not reliant on the whims of the system.

“Glory Road”:

On Saturday, 29th September 2007, for the first time I really understood the USA comparisons. The ‘pick of the day movie’ a true story, set in 1966, were the legendary Texas Western Miners college basketball team were mocked and ridiculed. Why? They were selecting a majority of black players in their team.

This, in a time where the politically correct system revolved around, ‘For home games, you put one black on the bench, for an away game, you put two players on the bench, and if you had no chance of winning, you may extend to three in tour team.

The whites always started the game, the black were always on the bench.

Their coach, Don Haskins, desperately tried to boost his sides chances by offering scholarships to white players, all refused because the Texas Miners were so bad. Then he spotted a black player coming in off the bench in a game, he was impressed and offered him a scholarship. Ten other scholarships followed, with the resulting resistance from the sponsors, teachers and white pupils.

Don Haskins and the team go through to the National Championship game against the basketball powerhouse, Kentucky. A comment he overheard in the toilet prior to the game, and a discussion that the opposing coaches wife has with Don’s wife, results in him making the decision to play only black players in the final. The two whites and the Hispanic are dropped for the final. The comment of the one white that is dropped is so powerful and motivating, the team goes onto win.

Don Haskins is eventually inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1997.

Jordan, my ten year-old grand-daughter cried, she could not believe that these black children were being treated like that.
I cried; tears of both sorry and joy.

Don Haskins opened the doors away from thinking quotas and succeeded. Our quota system is a negative; it forces the elitist structures to focus their development needs on a transformation requirement within the quota system. Millions is being spent on the few, and we will never succeed in transformation.

What is the per capita that is being spent on development, and just how much is it contributing to transformation. How many children are we reaching through the existing structures, and could we not reach a thousand children more than each of those we are touching today?
Any South African who will accept that this observation, with regard to the status of USA sports codes, has any degree of accuracy, must accept that we have failed dismally to transform sport in our country.

The fact that we do not play soccer at school in the Townships, is a major issue, if we had maintained the previous soccer structures we would have a team of world beaters, and many of our local products playing throughout the world.

This statement may be frowned upon, who am I to make such a statement?

I base this observation on the lack of participation that we have at national level in the other sports, rugby, cricket, tennis, hockey, swimming, golf. Had we introduced our Township population to these sports in 1995, we would not be talking about quotas; the majority of players in the teams would be black. The quota system has a negative impact on our transformation process.

Had we maintained strong soccer leagues in the Soweto schools and clubs, like in the past, those whites who would like to be involved would participate in the Township communities?

We need to develop our Township sporting and recreation standards to a level that compares with the highest in the country, and not only attract the local suburban communities, but the international communities.

Mrs. Zanele Mbeki’s article permits us to understand that the integration of the Township and Rural areas into the Global sports world, will require us to keep our minds focussed that we have this very unique problem, a very unique situation, where in the suburban area, we have a very bourgeois culture, and in the Township and rural areas, we still have a very socialist / revolutionary type of culture.
click to link showing Mrs Mbeki’s article, when finished, close link and you will return:

Our black community leaders, having been drawn into the suburban / bourgeois culture, find themselves competing with the whites for a position within this culture, and with the introduction of sporting and dress codes, initially aimed at reinforcing class distinction, they are locked into a structure that makes no provision to include the Township. This bourgeois culture satisfies the transformation and integration process by identifying a few Township children and thing them into their cultures, rather than developing the socialist /Township communities in the interest of the larger population.

The ‘2010 Sports Challenge’ Foundation will transform the sporting codes from the grass-roots level, starting in the primary and secondary school levels, ensuring that the transformation process is effective and sustainable. This transformation will be felt in every corner of the country, by the participation of the envisaged mentoring / adoption / twinning activities.

Elitist (Bourgeois) Sports Attitude:

I have had many discussions with my white friends and associates around the ‘Sports Quota’ / Transformation, and when they attack, or defend, I am not sure quite how to describe either sides of the argument, but it is always aggressive, they all start quoting Australia and the success that Australia is achieving. Australia’s success is almost considered as an acceptable reason for us to follow them, and ignore a large percentage of our population.

Sophie, a contact in the Australian Sports Department, working in the Eastern Cape and Mozambique, finds that many of the rural communities that she works with, feel that the National sporting structures; are not for them. They almost look at it in terms of a class distinction, being distant from them and not wishing to get too close to them.

Has the elite, professional structures, distanced the majority of potential participants, as they do not see a link, to their efforts and involvement, to any recognition at the top.

Why is there such a huge following playing Touch Rugby and Action Cricket, is it because they are in an environment, where they are made to feel part of the system, through the energy generated by the profit potential of the organizers.

I am not an expert in the field, however, I am inclined to think that this same attitude that the Australian has identified in the rural communities, could be linked to our suburban perceptions that the children and teachers are no longer interest in participating in sport, has the elitist system that links the elite schools to the elite structures, the elite clubs, the suburban ‘Mini-Leagues’ not had a negative impact of the other participants.

The ‘Mini-League’ structure / ‘Youth Clubs’ has become a feature of the Elitist Sports structures to identify youth potential in our communities. Is this approach due to the breakdown in the link between the Sporting Bodies and the School systems

Yes, it does work and we are identifying potential stars, but how do we give Justice and Ntombi an opportunity to become part of the system.

I believe that a survey in Soweto would reveal that thousands of ZAR has been spent on providing kit and equipment for ‘youth development’ teams, many participating in an ‘event’, then within a few moths they no longer train or play. Till we arrange another event that the ‘elitist structures’ require.

We should be aware that our soccer teams will continue to decline in strength till we introduce soccer at Township school level. If not, we will never qualify for a World Cup event again.

I have received numerous comments from the white sector that the Australian system of identifying youth and using the academy system is the way forward. Yes, maybe in a Country where the population is in general, financially wealthy, and they can get their children to their local clubs to participate in the ‘Mini-Leagues’, it can work.

My contacts in Australia however claim that although the academy system is one of the main focus points in Australia, the schools system is important with regard to the supply of participants into the academies.

South Africa should learn from the Australians, but we should be very wary of following them along a path where a section of our population is excluded from participation. We need to look at Countries such as India, Pakistan, Brazil, Argentine, Kenya, and then combine the best of both worlds. We consist of both worlds; let us combine both our worlds.

Sport in the Township; structures, modified rules and regulations:

The one danger that we are exposed to in the transformation process is the ‘lack of facilities’ syndrome.

Yes, it would be nice if we had the bourgeois facilities available to all our Township children, but this is not going to happen for fifty years. So we as a community need to restructure the sport to suit our communities.

Let us take rugby, as an example; on the 9th October 2007 I witnessed the Soweto school’s rugby semi-finals, taking place on the Roodepoort Rugby fields. I was excited to see the young Sowetans playing rugby of the fairly lush green grass of Roodepoort.
My criticism of the afternoon was that there were no parents watching their children taking their first steps into the white world of rugby. There were also very few spectators, and most of those did not appear to be too familiar with the game.

One of the organizers, during discussions, admitted that the use of the Roodepoort field was not conducive to spreading rugby into the Townships, but the three fields that were available, two in Dobsonville, and one in Orlando East, were so poorly maintained that the children could not play on them.

Our recommended option is that we modify the sport to suit the situation:

A.1: Soccer, including five-a-side or seven-a-side, indoor soccer where initially necessary, if it means we need to remove furniture from a class-room or hall.
Soccer to be practiced on areas, as close to the school as possible, with main fields to be provided for area fixtures. Fixtures to be so structured that maximum utilization, by schools, clubs and communities, can be made of the facility.
A.2: Netball. Most schools appear to have facilities provided.
A.3: Rugby, we should consider starting with a modified ‘Touch Rugby’ program, and where possible prepare for seven-a-side rugby, with a hold, rather than tackle situation. These modified games can be played on the ‘red earth’ soccer facilities with regular tournaments on the Soweto Rugby Club fields and other fields.
The next stage of Rugby would be full ‘Seven-a-side’ game and then the natural progression to the 15 man / woman game.
A.4: Mini Cricket, and where possible indoor cricket type competition. Mini cricket can be structured on the netball & tennis courts that exist. Application can be made to close suitable streets adjacent to the schools to serve as surfaces. As fields become available, mini-cricket tournaments can take place.
Gradually, the traditional game will be introduced as we progress.
A.5: Hockey, the suburban clubs have an exciting project that introduces Hockey to the children from an under 6 level. We will involve these club facilities to assist us with structures.
A.6: Tennis, starting with a practice wall, surface and equipment, similar to squash.
A.7: Athletics, at a more competitive level than presently exists.
Road Running; establish a ‘Township series of Fun Runs’ with the aim and objective to establishing a strong competitive league based in the Township areas. At present the Orlando Athletic Club has embarked on an exciting ‘Comrades Pyramid’ program, focussed on creating a pyramid of comrades novices.
A.8: Boxing / wrestling. I have seen coaches training boxing in the streets of Soweto.
A9: Equestrian sports, extend the work done by Mr. Enos Mofakate and the Soweto Equestrian Foundation to the schools.
A.10: Golf, the techniques and etiquette of golf can be taught at school. Establish a driving range facility at the club, but more importantly, a basic facility and equipment structure where the learners can be introduced to the sport and do a limited practice near the school. Introduce an annual school competition, if necessary look at modifying the rules of the game slightly, to make the game more accessible to the Township children. I think of how the caddies started in Greytown, in the 1960’s. This would be the definition of local rules.
A.11: Basketball.
A12: Baseball:

B.1: Chess.
In a small rural town in the Northern Cape, South Africa’s school champion team proudly is an example to all our schools.
On Sunday 20th May 2007, Carte Blanche exposed me to the program by David Macenaulty, Chess for Change, based on his success in the Bronx. The movie, “Knights of the South Bronx” is real motivational with regard to encouraging children to start chess, and the advantages that the children receive from participating, is exciting.
David Macenaulty and David Berman, a South African, have started a program in Cape Town and I am hoping that we can extend their efforts into Soweto, and then the rest of South Africa.
B.2: Debating.
This forum will permit our youth to start becoming actively involved in researching and addressing problems that the youth are facing today.
During the Apartheid years, the struggle united the youth and songs, poetry and drama were vehicles used to explore and address the answers.
Today, both in the Township and the suburban areas, the youth are faced with obstacles that need to be addressed and answers that we as a society need to find.
It is just possible that the debating forum can find some answers for us.
B.3: Poetry.
B.4: Drama
Focussed on -- ‘Theatre of the Oppressed’.
B.5: Music
B.6: Dancing
B7: Fine Arts, and all other cultural aspects.

C1: Agriculture / gardening:
The area committees will encourage the learners and their families to start developing vegetable gardens in their yards and communities.
The Foundation will approach the Department of Agriculture and the local seed and fertiliser communities to get involved.
C2: Communication:

Last but not least is the area of communication.
For those of us who have been fortunate enough to become part of the email and internet society have no idea just how isolated the Township communities are without them. The fact that this is an unknown medium, restricts then from asking / demanding access.

By putting structures in place through these area committees will permit the system and corporate world to find their feet in a network that we can all develop.

Internet access will opens the doors to the international world, and permit us to access the communities with much required maths and science education packages.

Dangers in satisfying the elitist structure’s transformation achievements:

The elitist sports structures attracts the finance from the sponsors, and has changed the focus to a system where the experts are scouting the corners of the country with the view to finding suitable participants in the various ‘High Performance Centres’ / ‘Academy’s’ that have become very much part of our ‘Australian Type’ structures.

You will hear many sports codes expressing satisfaction with the standard of school sports in South Africa, often quoted as the ‘the best in the world’.

If our school structures are so good, then why is it necessary for us to establish ‘youth teams’ consisting of scholars, yet operating outside of the school structures?

In the sports, arts and culture, we have numerous parents and community members involved in developing the youth at their own expense and in their own time. Mush of the motivation and enthusiasm is as the result of their personal experiences and achievements in the community years back. These structures are often the source of the ‘identification of talent’ that uncovers the new stars. Our, ‘black diamonds’.

That community member, ploughing every spare cent that they can muster in producing the ‘black diamond’ is never thanked or compensated.

We are all ignoring the impact that the recruitment of one potential star, out of an Eldorado Park or Kliptown community, can have on the other twenty players in the team. We, as a nation has discovered a potential star, but possibly lost twenty others to the scrap heap.

This process is only ten years old, and the effect is clearly visible.

‘Black Diamond’ - Mining Industry:

Today, our legislation ensures that the removal of our mineral wealth does not result in the destruction of our environment, without the mining company providing guarantees that the environment will be rehabilitated for the community.

Let us support the mining of our Black Diamonds in the interests of our national pride, however, let us be very aware that we as a community, must do everything in our power to ensure that the communities we are mining from, do not have the infrastructure affected by the removal of the ‘Black Diamonds’.

We support the need to develop our previously disadvantaged community, but we should ensure that we are not using other motivations for the development.

Let not the credit go to the sponsor / union / sporting code, who wish to claim contribution to transformation, yet not participating in transformation for the people.

In our elitist sports structure we have seen sponsors, establishing a premier league covering the entire Gauteng, drawing the top eight teams from the four Regions, and leaving the previous sponsor disillusioned and they withdraw, resulting in twelve teams lost to the scrap heap.

At suburban club level, this may be OK, but when there is no school activity as a base in the Townships, we need to question many of these decisions made in good faith and with good intent.

Our children, from the youngest must be involved in order that we give our children the opportunity to develop into holistic people.

Our grass-roots structures, if well developed, will form the basis of a supply into the elitist sector, without draining the lower structures.

Why should we not have the elitist structures in Soweto within ten years?

Cedric de la Harpe

(This post was last modified: 10-30-2012 03:34 PM by Cedric.)
10-30-2012 09:39 AM
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