Municipalities must do more to develop Mpumalanga’s sporting talent

James Masango MPL

Provincial Chief Whip of the Official Opposition

Municipalities’ failure to encourage the youth to participate in sports activities and to maintain those facilities not only exposes our youth to unnecessary risks, but also hampers the province’s sports development.

During the questions for oral reply session in the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature on Tuesday, sports MEC Sibongile Manana said that while the department set aside over R17 million specifically for school sports programmes, municipalities fail to fulfil in their responsibilities to developing and maintaining sports infrastructure.

According to the MEC, municipalities are required to plan for the development and maintenance of new and existing sports infrastructure in their Integrated Development Plans. However, upon receipt of the Municipal Infrastructure Grant municipalities use those funds for other purposes.

Not only is the re-appropriation of grant funds in contravention of municipal finance legislation, but the social impact the lack of sports development has is far reaching for the youth of Mpumalanga.

It is commonly known that idle hands are the devil’s tools, and if our youth play sports, they would be less likely to fall into crime, drug use, gangsterism, alcoholism, promiscuous behaviour and other social misdeeds, and have increased opportunity of becoming South Africa’s next sporting heroes and heroines.

In fact, municipalities should accept responsibility for the role they have played in the degeneration of our society, and have missed an incredible opportunity at bringing diverse racial and cultural groups from different socio-economic backgrounds to compete in the great unifier that is sport.

With such a vast untapped pool of talent, Mpumalanga has all the potential to deliver its own Olympic gold medallist or world champion, it only needs to be developed.

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