SASCOC Presentation on the London 2012 Olympics and the future of Team South Africa

Sports, Arts and Culture

23 October 2012
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Meeting Summary

President of SASCOC, Gideon Sam, spoke about Team South Africa’s performance at the London Olympics and its needs for the upcoming Rio 2016 Olympics. The need for more funding and the lack of an effective provincial sports structure were some of the key needs of SASCOC. Mr Sam spoke about new initiatives to make more of the money it received which included the basing of South African athletes in Europe so that they were able to compete in European events which were quite hard to fund when traveling to and from South Africa. SASCOC was currently developing a way in which to prevent athletes falling through the cracks by creating a new organised provincial system in which there was a clearer way to identify gifted athletes and provide sport for rural communities. SASCOC was also proud to say that they were hosting a coaching conference to fill the void of proper and experienced coaches. Over 100 coaches from each province would be in attendance and more impressively South Africa would be the site of the International Coaches Conference next year. SASCOC estimated that R400m would be needed to support athletes and coaches in the buildup to 2016. This would include setting up of a training base in Europe, living expenses, medical and scientific support interventions, competition and training camps, equipment, and coaching and technological support. The funding would also assist in ensuring that SASCOC delivers on its mandate as contained in the National Sport and Recreation Plan (NSRP). An overview was given of the financial status of SASCOC and how they were funded. The South African Lottery was seen by SASCOC as an entity that could provide even more funding. Mr Sam thanked the Committee and noted that they might not see him again after the November SASCOC elections.

The Committee assured SASCOC that they were very proud of the South African athletes and the six medals they had won. They were concerned however about the lack of provincial infrastructure in the sporting community and wonder how SASCOC was going to solve that problem. They thought it was very important that they find more athletes in the provinces that were may have been overlooked using SASCOC’s current methods. The Committee questioned what particular entities funded Team South Africa and if the allotted amount was enough for 2016. The Chairperson announced that they should do all that is possible for sport but that sometimes it cannot all just be fixed with money.

Meeting report

The Chairperson welcomed the SASCOC delegation. He asked for a moment of silence for the passing of assistant Bafana Bafana coach, Thomas Madigage. He said many of his colleagues were very impressed with the performance of the athletes and in particular the Paralympians. The Committee thought they should have a discussion about the Olympics and the upcoming 2016 games. It was important for them to become both active citizens in politics and all levels of sport. They were to bear in mind however that they did not have the facilities in rural areas to do so. It was important for the Members to get involved in sport because it could play a very important role in social cohesion. Sport could be a catalyst for change and build a truly non-racial society. The leadership of SASCOC and the community as a whole could really achieve that. He wanted to let SASCOC know that there could be times that they criticize SASCOC but that there was nothing personal about it. He said that people seem to appreciate sport more after the Olympic Games and they should capture the mood in the country so that they could make sport a pillar of social cohesion.

SASCOC presentation on London 2012 Olympics and future of Team South Africa
Mr Gideon Sam, President of SASCOC, said that the Chairperson was so right about it being their task that social cohesion was achieved through sport. He appreciated the engagement between the two entities. The last time they were there, they were able to give the Committee a picture of what they thought would happen at the Olympics. He wanted to thank the Members for their moral support especially that the Chairperson was in the stands at London. They should not kid themselves because there was still a lot of work to be done and that actually only a few athletes had contributed to the medal tally. They needed a way of unearthing new athletes so they were strengthening their provincial structures. It was not their mandate but they felt this would be a very good way of discovering athletes. They were strengthening their provincial sports councils so they could find out what they were doing. They did not want their good athletes to fall into the cracks. They wanted to invite the Members to come with them to the provinces.

In broad brush strokes, they had reason to be both happy and unhappy about the Olympics. They benchmarked themselves with New Zealand, which only had a population of just over four million people. New Zealand ended up getting 13 medals yet Nigeria received no medals. He had just returned from Nigeria, spending time with the President who had said they would never again not get medals at the Olympics. SASCOC would announce at the end of the month, the provisional squad for the 2016 Olympics. SASCOC needed to get the money on time so that they could properly support the athletes. One of the drawbacks of the previous campaign was that some of the Athletes were not a part of Operation Excellence and he thought they were not given the support to go and sharpen themselves. SASCOC wanted to make sure that each and every athlete that had the potential would move forward. A big issue was the coaching conference. There was a lack of depth with coaches. SASCOC wanted to appeal to Members that when they were in their constituencies to find out if that area had a coach’s commission. The conference was in November and it was going to be huge. They were asking all provinces to send a minimum of 100 coaches. This was going to be followed by the huge international coach’s conference that South Africa would be hosting next year. They had seen the work that they were doing in South Africa and agreed that it should be held here. They would also be launching an academy system for South Africa. The next test for Team South Africa would be taking a sizeable team to the Commonwealth Games in 2014 in Glasgow. They had set a target for improving on being number five which would mean taking out India, Canada or England. That was a broad brush of what was happening.

Ms Ezera Tshabangu, General Manager: High Performance Manager, said the final team size of Team South Africa for the London Olympics was 125 athletes with 46 coaches and managers, nine general team managers, 12 medical team members and 17 sports codes. The size was smaller for the Paralympics with 62 athletes, 29 coaches and managers, six general team managers, ten medical team members and seven sports codes. The demographics varied but overall there were more women than men because of the women’s soccer and field hockey teams.

Only four sports brought back medals. Eight athletes medalled meaning that the rowing medal only counted as one. Eight athletes and three relay teams reached the finals. The six medals were the most successful for the Olympic teams since readmission to international sports in 1992. South Africa was number 23 on the medal table with three gold which made them the most prolific team in Africa. At the Paralympics, three sports and 19 athletes brought back 29 medals. This meant that the team finished 17th on the medal table.

Team South Africa suffered challenges at and leading up to the Olympics and Paralympics. There was insufficient funding to support all athletes to qualify. To support the athletes and teams after qualification, additional funding was received only three months prior to the Games. The high performance centres were private business entities that needed to generate funds which meant that they rendered their services to overseas teams and athletes that competed against SA teams. There was an attack on some of the athletes by a sports scientist. Other challenges experienced included the selection policies where they were challenged by some Olympic athletes who competed in athletics, equestrian, and weight lifting while some Paralympians challenged SASCOC about selection in athletics and table tennis. There were also challenges with overseas based athletes and athletes with dual citizenship.

According to SASCOC, both team’s performances at the games were good but more work was needed to ensure that the country did not slip in terms of Rio 2016 performances. In addition, the Ekhaya Hospitality Centre in London assisted athletes and coaches in terms of key interaction with South Africans in the UK and those that visited London during the games.

In terms of the Road to Rio, SASCOC started supporting junior athletes in 2010 while 42 athletes were already confirmed with National Federations (NF) for support. NFs were now submitting names and four year plans and SASCOC had urged all of them to submit their long term plans. These athletes would compete at the 2014 Youth Olympics, ANOCA Youth Games, 2015 Commonwealth Games and the 2015 All Africa games.

The main focus would be on sports that return medals at major international events. There were also two new sports to be introduced at the games where South African had a legitimate shot to win medals: Rugby 7’s and golf.

SASCOC had engaged in a consultation process with all its member NFs and Provincial Sports Confederations to address problems with the selection policies, re-engineering of the provincial academy system in the country; reapplication for recognition process by NFs; setting up of the provincial coaching commissions; and implementation of the Coaching Framework.

SASCOC identified the needs in order for Team South Africa to go forward. It was estimated that R400m would be needed to support athletes and coaches in the buildup to 2016. This would include setting up of a training base in Europe, living expenses, medical and scientific support interventions, competition and training camps, equipment, and coaching and technological support. The funding would also assist in ensuring that SASCOC delivers on its mandate as contained in the National Sport and Recreation Plan (NSRP). There also needed to be an implementation of the Bidding and Hosting Strategy. She thanked the Committee.

Mr J Mcgluwa (ID) thanked the President of SASCOC for his comment about having to visit provinces because it was an issue that people were complaining about. Some athletes thought they were not selected because of not being recognized locally. The website alone was not enough because these people did not have access it. They should have interacted with provinces to update them so that they can identify more athletes.

Mr Sam said that the management team had sometimes been an issue with the media because there was this perception that they employ all these people and these “fat cats” just travel with them. He saw athletes at the Olympics who had seven members in a single athletes support team and South Africa’s athletes need all the support around and sometimes that support  is what is necessary to win. This happened with a Botswanan athlete who had no medical support and Mr Sam had told Team Botswana that they should have asked Team South Africa because they had such a good support team. The Committee must also understand that the High Performance Centres are not owned by SASCOC so when an athlete is sent to one it costs money. There was an issue around the sports which had not performed well. SASCOC had had to put its foot down in order for them to perform and set goals. Team South Africa also needed a smooth youth development programme. It needed a system that starts at the district level. One of the biggest drawbacks for South Africa sport was that their location was so far from Europe and it cost them an immense amount to send even one athlete to the competitions there. Thus they needed to find a way to put their athletes in Europe.

Mr M Dikgacwi (ANC) said that the presentation was good but time frames were a worry. If SASCOC did not set time frames then it would never get done. The other issue was with the stipends because there could not be an issue between abled and disabled bodies.

Mr S Mmusi (ANC) said that he understood that Mr Sam wanted to improve performance in 2014 for the Commonwealth Games. He understood out of the 26 sporting codes, South Africa only participated in 17 and he asked if they thought doing more codes would improve the performance. He asked if the target of 12 medals was too high.

Mr Sam replied that there were only 17 codes because it was up to the host country of the games to decide how many there were. In terms of medals, there were four medals that Team South was close to getting.

The Chairperson did not know why the athletes were not prepared mentally because it seemed like they had a support team. He pointed out that government should have a more hands-on role in sport but there was this extreme view that government should not. Countries such as France had been very successful about a hands-on role. People in South Africa just want government to give money and do nothing else but in France they were very grateful about the role of government, and they should discuss this. People should not take extreme views on the subject. They did not develop sport correctly because it seemed as if government was just the donor. There should be a very close government relationship between the national and provincial sporting communities. It had become a very important industry so it cannot be said that government should just be a spectator. If government can assist the country in social change then the government cannot be a spectator in sport. This was especially the case when they give them money but refuse to let them participate in the Olympic Games.

Mr Sam said that at international level, they had made their position very clear. The citizens that they work with belong to government and thus government had the final say. What the Committee was asking for in terms of government’s role became a debate and they could use the cricket issue as their starting point and it should be left there. They had not said how elections should be conducted in cricket. The way SASCOC worked is that they worked very closely with their Minister. The Committee and SASCOC needed to be on the same wavelength. In Russia the Deputy Prime Minister is also the president of the National Olympic Committee so one can imagine that there was no debate.

The Chairperson said he had raised some interesting points and especially the fact about Russia.

Ms M Dube (ANC) said she thought the document said that there was some progress in terms of needed change and her concern was about the strengthening of the provinces. She wanted to know what they were going to do to strengthen the provinces and what the link between SASCOC and the provinces was going to be. How could she link her local constituency office to SASCOC and the provinces?

Ms G Tseke (ANC) thanked Mr Sam for his presentation. Parliament had already sent congratulatory messages to Team South Africa and Mr Sam. The presentation did not show which stakeholders contributed to Team South Africa and she was wondering if that information could be made available. The Sports Council was an issue because they came to the Committee to say that they did not have enough funding but they were not well organised. There were clubs in different communities but they do not know how to get in contact with the Sports Council. She thought the Sports Council did not have a plan and that perhaps SASCOC could work with the Sports Council to create a plan.

Mr M Rabotapi (DA) said that when he was at OR Tambo for the departure of the athletes for London, he heard that Mr Sam said that the Team was on a sound financial footing.

Mr Sam interrupted saying “for public consumption”.

Mr M Rabotapi continued saying that by 2016 with R400mil would they then be on a sound financial situation.

Mr Sam said that SASCOC did not have money and they were battling but they did not want to create a scene at the airport because it would have been bad for their athletes and the country. When you get to that place you needed to say what was appropriate in public. In Nigeria he explained that the President signed on the dotted line with tax incentives and Nigeria would be a country to watch out for. There was lots of money being made in sports betting but they did not have a portion there except in horse racing and they were pursuing the other sports betting. The Lotto licence was ending so they wanted to renew that because it was very important. In the UK they received millions of pounds from the lottery. If they could have a handle on the lottery money they would be halfway there.

Mr Tseke asked if SASCOC could send them their newsletter.

Mr Dolgacwi said that what was happening in Cricket South Africa was very ugly and they were going to court. What was SASCOC doing to help this because it seems as they were rewinding. They need to look at what was happening with Cricket South Africa.

Mr Sam appealed for the Cricket story to be parked because it was a national debate and the Members needed all the facts. The Minister had dealt with the issue by bringing in Chief Justice Nicholson who said that they are carrying out the mandate as per. He would rather reserve his comment on the subject. He invited all the Members to the Free State because the MEC there had created the provincial system just like SASCOC had wanted. North-West had been assisted by SASCOC which now had solid leadership. The provincial structures as they were now were being strengthened by the instruction SASCOC gave them. He had met someone at the airport that wanted to know how he could get to the coaches conference in Joburg and Mr Sam gave him the number of the person. This sort of linkage was very important.

The Chairperson said that they should do everything humanly possible to develop sport because one can see the desperation of young boys and girls in the rural areas. He commented on dual citizenship saying it had some impact but he did not understand because many athletes from countries had dual citizenship.

SASCOC Financial update
Mr Vinash Maharaj, SASCOC CFO, said that as of 31 March 2012, total income received was R138 million. In terms of percentages; the International Olympic Committee (IOC) gave 7%, sponsorship of the Paralympics was 7%, Sport and Recreation SA 26% and National Lotteries 55%. The rest was investment income. They had a surplus of just over R16 million. In terms of spending: high performance expenditure was 20%, employment 12 %, depreciation 2%, audit fees 3%, finance cost just under 1 % and team delivery 13 %, operating expenses 12%, other projects 41%. In the Olympic year they had additional sponsorship from South African Airways, Proctor and Gamble and SASOL which was just over R14 million.
This was a brief overview of where they were currently.

The Chairperson made the point that money did not solve all the problems. SASCOC was a big organisation in terms of structures and they were asking a lot of them. He said it was a question of whether they should only target sports where they can win gold. He explained that they should also encourage traditional sports. They would go to Free State to see what was going on there at the provincial level.
There was a lot of money in sport these days so that meant that there would be more problems. He wanted to know if Mr Sam saw progress with the affiliates in the country and if they were becoming more organised.

Mr Sam replied they would be able to give them a full picture in April because every federation was being reviewed at the moment. That report would be given to the Committee because they did have some concerns about how some of the Federations were run. He reminded the Committee that there were SASCOC elections in November and that he might not be back.

The Chairperson thanked SASCOC and allowed them to leave.

The Chairperson noted that the Committee had to finalise its Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report (BRRR). It would be emailed to them so they can shape their suggested changes and additions. He did not think that the Committee had many more recommendations to add and asked them to review the BRRR in the next few days. The Committee would meet on 25 October so that they could approve the BRRR.  He went on to say that the reason for BRRR was for Parliament to have teeth. SASCOC had raised the issue about additional funding but sometimes more than just money was needed They needed to discuss Mass Participation. They wanted to sense that people were participating in large numbers but that was not happening so they must accelerate this. It was important for the youth not to be in shebeens but rather playing sport. They should hope for Mr Sam to be retained in the SASCOC elections. He announced that they had been invited to the final draw of the African Cup of Nations and asked if the Committee wanted to attend.

The meeting was adjourned.


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