By Ronald Peters
South Africa is without any doubt one of the sport countries in the world that is most steeped in tradition. With a history of achievements at the highest levels and numerous moving stories of individuals who came from the most unfavourable circumstances and who represented our country in its national sport teams, it is hardly necessary to try and motivate children from a very young age to develop a passion for sport.
However, the challenge lies in the process of exposing these young individuals who have a passion for sport, to opportunities where they can fulfil this passion, to make use of those opportunities to identify young talent, and then to develop that young talent to its full potential. Although it is a huge challenge, this process plays an integral role in our potential to compete as a country at the highest levels in the future. Moreover, the fact that politicians are now – more than ever before – forcing their discriminatory policies on sport federations and other bodies that are supposed to promote sport in our country, makes this process even more of a challenge.
One does not have to be a specialist in sport to notice the drastic decline in the general standard of sport at the levels where politicians had been able to meddle. It is also very obvious that top achieving players are not necessarily the players that are chosen for provincial and national level. In my capacity as manager of AfriForum Sport, I often engage with current and former representatives at our various sport federations, and these discussions often make me realise that this toxic system will have to become much worse before it is going to be reviewed. This will, however, only hold true if our dependence regarding sport resources and opportunities remains centred with the federations, which are being controlled by politics.
The current situation of unhindered decline has been with us for quite a while but has now reached its expiry date. It is time that we take ownership of the future of sport in our country. It is time that we ourselves create opportunities where young talent may be identified and developed to its full potential. It is time that we develop platforms that would make access to sport resources easier. It is time that recognition of achievement is again done on merit, and not on other discriminatory grounds. It is time that we again utilise the ability that sport has to unite communities and to empower them, to its fullest potential.
The time is now.
This is a challenge to you. If you are one of the thousands who are tired of complaining about the injustices of the systems in our country and wish to help with building a future for your children and mine, then become part of the AfriForum Sport community. The responsibility is huge, but we will not allow politicians to drive this fundamental body that is giving so much hope and even a livelihood to many people, into the ground. Here is an opportunity to give people hope, to empower them, and to become part of a feeling of community. Do not miss out on this opportunity.