Leisure and Recreation Association of South Africa: Programmes to improve service delivery

NCOP Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture

09 August 2011
Chairperson: Ms M Makgate (North West, ANC)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

The Leisure and Recreation Association of South Africa (LARASA), which was a non-government organisation established in May 2010, briefed the Committee on its aims, objectives and suggestions as to how service delivery in the leisure and recreation sector could be improved. Many professionals working in the recreation industry could not currently belong to any professional organisation and LARASA was therefore founded partially with the intention of seeking accreditation as a professional body from the South African Qualifications Authority, and thereafter conducting professional examinations, after working with universities who would develop curricula and conduct training. Most of its current members were based in universities. LARASA also aimed to provide a medium for networking and growth, and could also provide consultancy services to government on promoting recreation services across South Africa. LARASA believed that recreation was an important catalyst to promotion of healthy living, and reducing delinquency and crime, and the savings achieved for healthcare and crime prevention could be put to recreation and leisure. Furthermore, LARASA stressed the links between recreation, tourism and environmental management. Improving recreation could assist the achievement of some of the Millennium Development Goals, and LARASA suggested that it would be able to train communities in entrepreneurship in this field, thereby improving overall knowledge and self-sufficiency. It had links to parks and recreation organisations in America. It wanted to promote advocacy, to make a strong impact in communities, to develop knowledge and capacity in citizens, to create awareness of the sector and to set up sustainable projects. It was important for government to promote and finance development of recreation, separately from sport, across all government departments. LARASA had put in, and been shortlisted for, a bid to host the World Leisure Conference in 2016.

Members asked what LARASA felt it had to offer, over and above what was already being done, and wondered if it was not duplicating the work of existing government departments. They enquired about any contracts or formalised relationships that it may have with institutions of learning, government departments or other sports and recreation agencies. They wanted to know how LARASA was funded, what selection criteria existed for membership, who would be paying for the training that it would offer, and what job prospects were open to those graduating with skills in recreation. Members also asked what it saw as its significant achievements to date, and how exactly it would hope to assist government. Members were particularly interested in whether any rural programmes were currently being offered, how these would be designed, how staff at schools could be professional trained in sports and recreation, and what the main reasons were for setting up this organisation. They noted that LARASA intended to evolve its mandate further as it developed.

Meeting report

Leisure and Recreation Association of South Africa: Programmes aimed at improving service delivery
Ms Maliga Naidoo, President, Leisure and Recreation Association of South Africa, outlined that the purpose of the Association (LARASA)  LARASA) was to try to enhance the quality of life of all people, which was also in line with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It was the duty of all citizens of South Africa to ensure that the MDGs were reached. LARASA was also formed to promote recreation and leisure as a profession ,and to create an enabling environment for a unified professional body to promote recreation and leisure as an essential public sector service.

Ms Marie Young, Secretary, LARASA, expanded on the notion that leisure and recreation were directly linked with the MDGs, and said that LARASA, in planning, had looked specifically at trying to bring its own mission in line with those goals. Although LARASA concentrated mainly on training professionals in the leisure industries, it would also provide skills training to volunteers, who could then pass on this knowledge to their own communities. She added that LARASA would also be able to target marginalised groups, such as women and the disabled. Recreation programmes could also train disabled people to become self-sufficient and self-sustainable.

LARASA aimed to focus not only on its own goals but those of the MDGs, such as eradication of extreme poverty. It felt that it could help to achieve poverty eradication by training people to become entrepreneurs. Gender equity and empowerment of women would also be targeted in the LARASA programmess. LARASA would be able to identify women leaders in the community, train them in entrepreneurship, and give back to communities at the same time. It believed that another consequence of training women would be that child mortality would be reduced, as women would acquire the proper skills to ensure better safety of their children, from birth through to adolescence. LARASA also aimed to work with communities in dealing with diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis. It would initiate an education campaign to teach people in poor communities how to deal with prevention, or how to live with diseases.

Ms Young stated that LARASA had already developed a working relationship with the World Leisure Association and the Parks and Recreation organisations in United States of America (USA), and engaged frequently with these organisations, exchanging ideas and knowledge.

Ms Naidoo reiterated that LARASA was closely linked to community development and believed that through recreation services and programmes it would be able to empower communities, boosting self-confidence of individuals and enabling them to take ownership of their community.

Ms Naidoo noted that LARASA was formed in May 2010 and had been registered with the NPO office in Pretoria. The primary members of the organisation were from universities. Whilst professionals such as engineers, doctors and others were associated with professional organisations, members of LARASA did not have recognition through another association, so that LARASA would act as a “home base”, and would be an important medium through which professionals in the leisure industry could network and communicate. The members of LARASA wanted to have LARASA recognised as a professional body, so it would be submitting an application for registration as such to the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) in 2012. As part of this process it also intended to set up a qualifying examination. At the moment, LARASA was still in the process of finding its way. It had created its own constitution, which was strict, substantive and comprehensive. However, as the organisation matured, it would formulate and adopt newer principles and objectives.

Ms Naidoo then stated that the first goal of LARASA was to establish itself successfully, and this had been achieved. Secondly, it wanted to promote advocacy, so that it could make an effective and efficient impact in communities. Its third goal was to develop knowledge and capacity, and work towards enhancing the citizenry through training and capacity building programmes. The fourth goal was linked to awareness, and it was particularly important to create awareness of the recreation sector in South Africa as it was still relatively new. Its final goal was to achieve organisational excellence, so that all its projects would be sustainable and have a lasting impact on society.

Ms Naidoo linked the emergence of the industrial revolution in the mid-1800s, and the subsequent increase in population in the cities to the degradation of family life. Owing to the lack of scientific evidence linking recreation to healthy living, the recreation industry had been neglected. However, research in the 1980s had linked recreation opportunities to healthier living, and also showed that when the youth were offered the opportunity for structured recreation, crime dropped, health improved and costs fell for the police and health services. She noted that this meant that the money saved could be re-invested into tourism and leisure. Over the last few decades it had been recognised that recreation was very important to improving lives. The development of the recreation industry had other spin-offs, including the increase in tourism, and greater awareness and promotion of conservation of indigenous flora and fauna. Ms Naidoo pleaded that Parks and Recreation opportunities should be promoted, because it would assist in reducing juvenile delinquency and drug use among young people.

Ms Naidoo said that it was the responsibility of the local, provincial and national government to promote and finance the development of the recreation services in South Africa. It was also important to establish synergy between the three spheres of the government. She suggested that the Constitution of South Africa did contain a flaw in that recreation was linked to sport, and did not have its own separate definition outside of the sport sector, and although sports appealed only to a select few, recreation was broader and could include every citizen of the country. She suggested that government should work with LARASA to put more emphasis on recreation, develop a national recreation programme, and promote the cooperation of all departments in working towards developing the recreation sector.

Ms Naidoo noted, in closing that LARASA had put in a bid to host the World Leisure Conference in 2016, and had been shortlisted. If selected, this would be a major boost for the South African leisure industry.

Mr W Faber (Northern Cape; DA) stated that there were already government departments dealing with recreation, sports and health, which implemented several programmes similar to what LARASA had suggested should be done. He asked LARASA if it would not be duplicating what was already being done, and to explain how its accomplishments would set it above these departments.

Mr M De Villiers (Western Cape; DA) asked about any specific projects being implemented in the rural communities.

Mr S Plaatjie (North West, COPE) asked if there was any Memorandum of Understanding drawn up between LARASA and institutions of learning. He also enquired as to any connection between LARASA and other sports and recreation agencies. He furthermore made enquiries as to the composition and selection of its members.

Ms B Mncube (Gauteng; ANC) wanted to know if LARASA was accredited by any organisation or departments, such as the Department of Higher Education. She also wanted clarity as to the angle that LARASA would take in working with the Select Committee on Education and Recreation. She enquired who would pay for the training that LARASA intended to provide, and asked about the specific relationship or agreements between LARASA, National Treasury, and universities.  Finally, she asked about the job prospects of a professional graduating with training in recreation.

Mr S Rasmeni (North West; ANC) asked about LARASA’s relationship with the Departments of Tourism, Health, Education and any other relevant departments. He enquired who was primarily funding LARASA at this point. He asked where its offices were located, particularly if there were provincial offices. He wanted to know about its current projects.

Ms Naidoo stated that there were indeed many programmes instituted by government that targeted specific groups, including the youth. However, these programmes may not have had the intended impact on the groups as a whole. For this reason, it was important to interrogate the existing plans and investigate where the money was being spent.

Ms Naidoo pointed out that, at present, many open spaces and parks throughout the country were being used as havens for drug users and sellers, and the crime committed there was high. The whole point of parks and open spaces was to ensure that everyone would have access to open spaces within a five kilometre radius of their homes, and that these spaces would be safe for families, especially in the evenings when people returned from work and would like to take their families out for recreation.

Ms Naidoo pointed out that the government budget at the moment was not sufficient to separate out recreation and sports. She urged Members to motivate for a separation of the two. Each aimed to fulfil its own specific purpose. She stressed that it was very important for municipalities to construct and maintain parks, as the more they built, the more they would be used.

Ms Young stated that LARASA had been working closely with the universities, to work towards establishing a professional network. She indicated that universities would provide training on behalf of LARASA.

Ms Naidoo stated that LARASA itself did not intend to accredit a person or organisation, as that would be the job of the Department of Higher Education. However, LARASA would be providing a certified examination. The universities would provide the curriculum of training, but LARASA would be responsible for organising the examinations.

Ms Naidoo stated that membership of LARASA would be open and voluntary, with different categories of membership available, depending on each individual’s level of interest. For example, the lowest level of memberships would be for students or for people with general interest in recreation. Funding would be raised through membership fees, and there would not be pressure put on National Treasury or municipalities. However, in regard to the municipalities, LARASA would hope to assist them to justify their spending on recreation programmes.

Ms Naidoo claimed that the vision of LARASA coincided with various existing government departments, and with programmes in healthcare, employee assistance, and correctional services and youth programmes. She noted that LARASA had a website, and would be producing a newsletter to the market the organisation. Promotional notices about LARASA were also placed on partner and university websites.

Mr De Villiers stated that his concerns about rural programmes had not been answered.

Ms Naidoo responded that the programmes would be designed to meet the particular needs of each region, through collaboration with the local communities.

Mr De Villiers wanted to know if there were programmes already being implemented by LARASA within rural communities.

Mr Plaatjie asked what could be done to ensure that the staff in charge of sports in schools would have professional training in sports and recreation.

Ms M Moshodi (Free State; ANC) wanted to know the primary reasons for setting up LARASA, and how LARASA would address the lack of programmes in rural communities.

The Chairperson enquired how LARASA suggested that the challenges of establishing parks and other public facilities in townships could be addressed. She also asked how LARASA intended to take the ordinary citizen on board, so that it was not restricted only to being a professional organisation.

Ms Naidoo emphasised that recreation served a broader need for every person. LARASA saw itself as an advisory body who could guide in the development of programmes and social services. LARASA would therefore work with government in promoting social services. She suggested that LARASA would be able to monitor the costs of social services, and work towards reducing that expenditure wherever possible. For example, it would be cheaper for the government to construct an outdoor running trail than to build a gym. Cost-savings could also be accomplished through development of partnerships with the private sector. She also emphasised the importance of developing a strong volunteer programme. She stressed that South Africa could reduce the level of cardiovascular diseases by developing strong recreation programmes. South Africa could also reduce crime rates by promoting arts and crafts to the youth, as studies into the effects of arts and crafts had shown their effectiveness in reducing delinquency. She believed that LARASA would be able to play an integral role in ensuring that the right programmes were implemented and targeted at the right individuals.

The Chairperson asked what LARASA regarded as its most significant achievement to date.

Ms Naidoo responded that the creation of LARASA was in itself an achievement. She stated that it was important for professionals to establish networks and connections, and since LARASA currently had a university base, it had the opportunity to expand and spread its message to a wider audience. She also added that the making of a bid for the conference in 2016 was seen as a success, because no one from LARASA had done anything like this in the past, and the opportunity to make the application had exposed it to many agencies worldwide.

Ms Young added that there were many professionals in the leisure and recreation industries who wanted to have a median for communication, as well as to have their skills recognised. LARASA would achieve those aims. It would continue to develop its mandate as the needs of its members and of the communities continued to evolve.

The meeting was adjourned.


  • We don't have attendance info for this committee meeting

Download as PDF

You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.

See detailed instructions for your browser here.

Share this page: