DA KZN:  Sport and Recreation holds the licence to change many young lives

Hlanganani Gumbi, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson on Sport and Recreation

KZN’s Sport and Recreation is a department with limited resources, yet incredible importance. It is the department which at its very base should keep young people active, in school, and off drugs and alcohol and other negative influences.

If ever there was a vision which should encapsulate this department it should be – “One Child, One Sport”.  This is where we need to be.  And every cent of the department’s R347million budget should strive towards this goal.

This is why the DA was pleased when, during the joint budget hearing held with the Finance Committee, all parties registered concerns with initial budgetary cuts of R30 million for the school sports budget.  Consensus was reached by all parties that we cannot afford to cut down on what we spend on school sports. The DA commends the MEC for returning to the portfolio committee and accepting such a concern by making the necessary appropriate changes to the budget.

Ultimately, school sport is the most practical means of increasing access to sports in a mass based way.  It has the potential to make a profound impact on people’s lives and their development.

Unfortunately, the current sporting budget – or any budget the department receives in the near future – is not going to credibly provide a genuine sporting infrastructure which gives every child that chance.

Sports requires infrastructure such as grounds, courts, pools and the likes which are both in short supply and expensive to maintain. It is therefore unsurprising that facilities are often in a dilapidated condition. Most facilities are minimal, overused and often poorly taken care of particularly in small towns. The DA admits that the department is working under difficult circumstances.  But these are the challenges that any government of the day cannot complain about and must simply face.

It is on this basis that the DA calls for extra particular leadership on the part of the MEC.  She must ensure that Municipal Infrastructure Grants given to local authorities are spent in accordance with the prescribed spending mandate, of which 15% should be directed towards building sporting facilities. The MEC must ensure the department has far greater coordination with municipalities and oversight on this key matter.  This responsibility must be her driving focus if there is to be a serious impact on sporting infrastructure.

For as long as municipalities do not adhere to their responsibility of spending 15% of their MIGs on building sporting infrastructure, the department will be working in circles. It will never have enough to build the kind of sporting infrastructure that can redress the imbalances of opportunity so persistent today, within communities and within the school system. We need to do everything possible to bridge the gap between what we call model c schools and their sports infrastructure and schools in formerly disadvantaged areas.

The DA supports sports academies as a driving force for developing sporting excellence. These models have been DA policy for years and used to great success in countries including Australia.  Academies become brilliant hubs for placing and investing in young sporting potential, scouted from a mass base of a ‘One child, One sport’ school environment. This is the model to cultivate tomorrows sporting heroes.

KZN’s leadership must ensure that our sporting academies are professional and successful intuitions and find ways to expand access to academies, the quality of their facilities and talent managers. Ultimately we need a world class sporting institution which drives sporting success in KZN.

With this mixed hybrid of mass participation within school sports and supporting academies that drive success, supported by an infrastructure that can be developed with the appropriate responsive and attentive leadership, KZN’s Sport and Recreation department hold the license to give hundreds of children across the province the chance to reject so many social ills, and ultimately fulfill their potential.

The department of Sport and Recreation may have a small budget.  Yet it has the ability to influence and change so many lives.  And it is a powerful tool to integrate this province despite differing racial, social and class lines.

This budget must walk that path.