Eminent Persons Group (EPG): Progress made with regard to transformation in sport federations

Sports, Arts and Culture

02 June 2015
Chairperson: Ms B Dlulane (ANC); Mr S Ralegoma (ANC) (Acting)
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Meeting Summary

The Eminent Persons Group (EPG) briefed the Committee on progress made with regard to transformation in sport federations. It said the core problem in SA’s sporting system was that there was no coordination or alignment between the different components of the system. If there was no participation opportunity, or skills and capability development at the lowest levels of the sports system, then there would be no demographic change in the profile of players on the field and administration off the field of play.

Sport pumped R3 billion into SA’s economy. Among the reasons for federations not pushing for transformation was the fact that there had never been dedicated funding for such initiatives. The EPG predicted that if SA carried on with only 16% of the white, coloured or Indian under 18-year-olds, or denied the 84% of under 18-year-old black African South Africans participation opportunities, SA would not be playing competitive international sport in 30 years’ time.

Until the recent signing of memorandums of understanding with the five most popular sporting codes in SA, the federations had simply refused to commit to the transformation targets set by the government. With the advent of the EPG and the two published transformation audits, federations were now waking up to the reality that though transformation had a moral basis, there was now a survivalist and economic basis to transform sport from the leadership level, right down to the grassroots. The Group also lamented the lack of continuity of sport and government regimes, because with each new regime institutional knowledge was being lost.

The Committee asked:

  • Whether there was any weighting between the seven transformation areas.

  • How sustainable was the EPG going forward?

  • Had the EPG left the responsibility for communicating the value and importance of the Transformation Charter to senior players and players’ unions with the federations?

  • What more tangible interventions had the EPG recommended to federations regarding board and executive management demographic representation challenges?

  • How was the EPG penetrating the different spheres of government in terms of who had the power to enforce schools’ sport participation?

  • Was the composition of the junior cricket and rugby teams, which would soon be competing internationally, aligned with the vision of the EPG regarding transformation, given the EPG’s emphasis on the fact that if the junior teams were not producing sufficient talent currently, it was probably unlikely that the transformative numbers required for the senior national teams would be achieved in the future.

  • In the light of the FIFA situation, would it be appropriate to invite the Minister of Sport or the SA Football Association to brief the Committee on the matter?

Meeting report

Mr S Ralegoma (ANC) was elected Acting Chairperson in the absence of Ms B Dlulane (ANC), who had reported she would arrive late. He welcomed the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) secretariat, Dr Willie Basson, together with the Sport and Recreation South Africa (SRSA) official accompanying him.

Eminent Persons Group (EPG): Progress on transformation in sport federations

Dr Basson said he was the author of the two audit reports which formed the content of his presentation. He had been involved in sport for just over 30 years, and he enumerated the positions he had held in all the bodies he had been part of during that time. A third audit was in progress into 17 priority sporting codes and with its finalisation, the sports fraternity would get a better sense of what was happening in sport in SA. The core problem in SA’s sporting system was that there was no coordination or alignment between the different components of the system.

Dr Basson said that if there was no participation opportunity, or skills and capability development at the lowest levels of the sports system, then there would be no demographic change in the profile of players on the field and administration off the field of play.

In terms of economic empowerment; preferential procurement was the social responsibility part of the transformation charter, since sport pumped R3 billion into SA’s economy. Among the reasons for federations not pushing for transformation was the fact that there had never been dedicated funding for such initiatives.

Dr Basson predicted that if SA carried on with only 16% of either white, coloured or Indian under 18-year-olds, or denied the 84% of under 18-year-old black African South Africans participation opportunities, SA would not be playing competitive international sport in 30 years’ time.

That first report also highlighted the vulnerability of SA’s state of schools sport, showing that less than 10% of the 25 000 public/private schools on average participated in the 17 priority sporting codes.

Discussion

Mr D Bergman (DA) asked whether there was any weighting between the seven transformation areas. How was representation measured -- was it in terms of national population figures, or group specific interest on and off the field, in terms of spectators watching a particular sporting code. Most of the seven transformation areas were not measurable; seeing that most of the EPG’s data was based on what information federations had given the group historically. The issue with low participation sporting codes at schools sport level was that equipment intensive sports were unaffordable for most disadvantaged schools. What could the Committee do to change the statistic that only 10% of 25 000 SA schools were participating in sport? How was the EPG penetrating the different spheres of government in terms of who had the power to enforce schools’ sport participation? How sustainable was the EPG, going forward? Did the EPG give a rating score for transformation among professionals supporting athletes, such as physiotherapists, coaches, team doctors and administrators?

Mr S Malatsi (DA) asked how effective schools sport was in producing the demographic numbers by tapping into the 84% African black pool currently not partaking in sport. What was the EPG’s stance on quotas in both senior and junior national teams across all sporting codes? Seeing that Dr Basson had been involved in cricket previously, what were his views on the pace of transformation or lack thereof in that sport, especially regarding the composition of the senior national team that had competed in the recent Cricket World Cup (CWC). Was there fair representation of demographics and opportunities to get into the national teams? Was the composition of the junior cricket and rugby teams -- which would be competing internationally soon -- aligned with the vision of the EPG regarding transformation, given the Group’s emphasis on the fact that if the junior teams were not producing sufficient talent currently, it was probably unlikely that the transformative numbers required for the senior national teams would be achieved in the future.

Ms D Manana (ANC) asked what methodologies the EPG would use to achieve the transformation targets it had set for the 17 priority codes and the larger remaining number of federations.

Dr Basson replied that it was important to understand the Transformation Charter, since his experience was that many federation officials did not have an in-depth understanding of it. The Charter, however, was the guiding document to bring about transformation. The EPG’s role was to manage and lead the process of transformation. In terms of participation, its focus currently was on the field of play, from the national and provincial level, right down to schools’ junior teams.

A long term aim in the process of transformation work was measuring interest in terms of spectators, since it was by free choice. However, that was not a part of the EPG’s mandate. Market research could be contracted to complete those surveys.

The equipment-intensive sporting codes that Mr Bergman had referred to were currently being played in a structured and organised manner at primary schools, although the percentages were below standard and that was why Dr Basson had questioned the continued government support for those federations, as they were self-sufficient but were not transformed. All that was needed was innovation in those federations.

The EPG was a body that conducted studies and recommended what needed to be done to achieve transformation targets. The Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) that Sport and Recreation South Africa (SRSA) had concluded with the five biggest sporting codes had come about through the EPG’s efforts and to that extent, it would oversee the implementation of the MoUs by the signatory federations. As the SRSA expanded on the matter of transformation with the other codes, the EPG would continue to advise. However, from a political perspective, state structures had to assist in sorting out the complexities at schools level. Without doing that, the pre-1994 trends in sport federations would continue into the future.

SRSA and the Department of Basic Education (DBE) had to sort out their differences, because the best sports organisers before the new dispensation were teachers. In terms of the effectiveness of school sport to produce the transformation numbers for senior national teams, schools could not do that because of their lack of organising capacity and facilities.

There were problems with the reliability of the data, but at least the EPG had started to unpack the challenges with transforming sport in SA. The quotas were the same as the transformation targets to be achieved. Moreover, with the MoUs, the EPG had shifted the responsibility for transforming sport from the government to the sports federations.

Referring to the CWC Protea’s exit, he said there had been mistakes on the side of cricket’s administration, where it had sent a note to the team management on the eve of the semi-final, reminding them about Cricket South Africa’s (CSA’s) policy on demographic representation. That had been a costly mistake, because the reminder should have been drilled into the management team during the preparations for the CWC.

The bigger issue was that the Proteas and Springbok rugby senior players were a union that drove their own programmes. Therefore, the mistake had been that the administrators of CSA had allowed a wide distance to develop between themselves and the players’ association. Fortunately, since the CWC, the South African Rugby Union (SARU) and CSA would rectify that challenge by consulting players regularly to make them understand the purpose of the Transformation Charter.

Transformation was happening from under-9 through to under-17 in cricket and rugby junior teams.

The MoUs were saying that each code would comply with the findings of the audit, and would implement what was necessary. They would also supply the EPG with their barometers, and Dr Basson would then have one-on-one interactions with each code on those barometers -- on whether they were realistic, or whether they needed to be adjusted.

Ms Onke Mjo, Chief Director: Active Nation, SRSA, said that the longevity of the EPG and the audit outcomes went together with the implementation of the SRSA’s programme implementation. For example, in terms of school sport, the national sport federations had not been committing to the transformation imperatives until SRSA had shown them data provided evidence of where federations were in implementing transformation in their respective codes.

Previously sporting federations were not focusing and aligning themselves to government-coordinated sports programmes, like the schools sport national championships, as they were running parallel non-aligned programmes of their own. That duplication had the effect of undermining the outcomes of the government programmes, since they were not aligned to SRSA programmes. The EPG had developed MoUs, and were therefore assisting SRSA to keep federations accountable for transformation.

Regarding the gross demographic disparities in national teams previously, the Committee should note that at junior levels, there was enough black African representation. However, from high school onwards, most of those youths would fall through the cracks. Since the existence of the EPG, the big five codes had established systems of tracking the progress of black African talent through to competitive professional leagues.

The relationship between community club development, which the government had been supporting for years, and sporting federations, was that historically the federations were not recognising and affiliating those clubs. The consequence was that there was no progression for that talent, since they were not from legitimate structures. From the data which had recently surfaced, SRSA was currently able to get federations to align and tap into that talent pool.

Dr Basson said the one-on-one interactions that the EPG was having with federations were such that when SRSA had met with Gymnastics SA (GSA), it had been quite clear about the federation’s progress in terms of transformation, and where it projected the GSA could be.

When the Charter was written, the EPG had allocated weightings. The process of the audits was to evaluate those weightings and their impact. The drivers of the transformation process were mainly resources, participation opportunities, and skill and capability development. Therefore, those three areas of transformation would be weighted higher than the social responsibility focus areas.

Mr Malatsi asked for clarity on targets versus quotas, and asked what would happen when the targets were not met in a particular code, especially in the composition of a senior national team. There had to be a focus on what challenges there were in streaming talent from the junior to senior national team level. Had the EPG left the responsibility for communicating the value and importance of the Charter to senior players and players’ unions, with federations? What more tangible interventions had the EPG recommended to federations regarding board and executive management demographic representation challenges?

Mr Bergman reiterated that there remained low participation in equipment-intensive sports at school level due to resources and facilities -- apart from cricket, where CSA had recently shown that it had the resources to become more participation and opportunity focused.. Therefore, in terms of demographics, the focus should rather be on interest group demographics on and off the field, rather than national demographics. For example, if only a section of the population was interested in playing jukskei, why would the EPG want to enforce a transformation quota on people that were not interested in either watching the sport being played, or participating themselves? If a code suffered because the EPG was measuring the wrong variables, was the possibility of less participation, less generation of revenue and less competitiveness not a consequence of such measurement?

Mr G Mmusi (ANC) asked the EPG to speak to the challenges of non-alignment of a national federation’s constitution to its provincial affiliates’ constitution. Could Dr Basson elaborate on how access to swimming as a sport could be developed in previously disadvantaged and rural areas?

Mr Ralegoma said that he applauded SRSA’s approach in using the EPG to deal with transformation challenges, adding that the Committee’s strategic plan could also be made better by using the group’s report.

The Chairperson said that SRSA had been struggling to get the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to take schools sport seriously, even after the two Departments had signed the MoU.

Dr Basson said that if one analysed the challenges of transformation from a strategic perspective, one would quickly understand why the Committee agreed with the EPG. If the focus of transformation in sport was focused at the senior professional levels of performance in all sporting codes, without taking care of the foundation levels where 84% of African black youth talent was untapped, then everyone was working backwards, since only the federations were bearing the brunt while the DBE and SRSA were not cooperating.

The pipeline which had opened up at junior levels had to be broadened so that at least 25% of the 25 000 schools participated in sport. If it remained at 10%, the pipeline would dry up and the white population, which overwhelmingly represented the country internationally at sporting events, was also shrinking.

He said that 70% of Western Cape (WC) schools participated in rugby and cricket, which was why there were coloureds and Indians in the Springbok and Protea teams. In the Eastern Cape (EC), 60% of schools performed similarly to the WC, which translated to the WC, EC and KwaZulu-Natal contributing to the senior national teams going forward, and the rest of SA not playing competitive sport. Therefore, transformation targets would work at junior levels only when facilities were built, skills and capability development took place, and tournaments and competitions were organised, so that whatever small transformation took place, the MoUs could enforce more compliance so that transformation could occur naturally at senior levels.

The biggest danger threatening all of this work was the overwhelming discontinuity factor in the sporting system in SA, since every four years the federation management and leadership changed. Unfortunately, institutional knowledge suffered because as the leadership were starting to understand the challenges in the system -- even in government -- there was regime change. The level of strategic thinking and planning by key decision makers, which based their decisions on insight and facts, had to be resolved because all the work would revolve around the same issues with each regime change. In any sophisticated sport system in the world, there was the aspect of provision, and the one of delivery. The provider was the government and the delivery agent was the federation. In SA, the government wanted to do both and federations also wanted to do both. There was a clear confusion of roles.

Mr Bergman lamented the fact that there had been a joint meeting with the Committee on Basic Education, but a follow up was not materialising and the Committee on Sport and Recreation seemed to be the most concerned and were doing most of the work in terms of the sport system. The isolation of the Committees from one another was making the work frustrating.

The Chairperson replied that Mr Bergman should recall that the Committee had programmed a briefing with DBE for 1 September 2015.

Consideration of minutes

The Committee considered its minutes of 26 May 2015.

Mr Ralegoma contended that there was a challenge with a resolution noted in the minutes, because he did not remember the Committee agreeing to that resolution.

The Committee then argued over the resolution and other aspects of the minutes at length, until there was consensus that some Members would have to listen to an audio recording of the proceedings of the day so as to clarify what had been proposed by whom, and who had supported the proposal.

The minutes were not adopted due to the disagreement.

Announcements

The Chairperson informed the Committee that she had not attended the signing of the MoUs by the big five federations with SRSA. This was mainly because the Office of the House Chairperson had reported that it had never received an application for her to go and attend the event. She would certainly follow it up and report to the Committee.

She said that Mr Malatsi had written to the Committee to get consensus on whether it would be appropriate to invite the Minister of SRSA, Mr Fikile Mbalula, to come and tell the Committee about the issues surrounding the corruption investigation into FIFA and its awarding of bids.

Mr Ralegoma concurred that it would indeed be best to engage SRSA.

Ms Manana said that there had been a Local Organising Committee (LOC) and even if they were called, she doubted the story would be any different as Mr Danny Jordaan had said that monies had exchanged hands, but they were not bribes.

Mr Malatsi said what was troubling about the issues surrounding the investigation was that there were new developments every day, and the purpose of his letter was to get to what the thinking of the direct organisations involved in the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup at that time had been.

Mr Bergman said that the allegations were against the South African Football Association (SAFA), and therefore the Committee needed SAFA to come and account.

The Chairperson suggested that as the investigation was still fluid, perhaps it would be best to wait for concrete occurrences before summoning people to Parliament.

Mr Ralegoma concurred with the Chairperson.

Ms Manana said it was better to allow the processes to be finalised, as there had been no findings and recommendations up until then.

Mr Mmusi concurred with the Chairperson’s proposal as well.

Mr Malatsi said that his issue was that there was currently no investigation by SA law enforcement and there had been no charges against anyone in the country as well, which partly spoke to the need to get clarity even if the situation was fluid.

The Chairperson proposed that would it then be better to agree on a deadline date by which either SAFA or another entity involved should come and account to the Committee.

Mr Mmusi proposed that the Mr Malatsi’s letter should be shelved for a while so that the Committee could return to it after the dust had settled.

The Chairperson asked whether anyone was in support of Mr Mmusi’s proposal concerning the letter.

Mr Malatsi supported the Chairperson’s proposal of a timeframe

Ms B Dlomo (ANC) seconded Mr Mmusi’s motion.

The letter was to be then set aside until such time as the Committee agreed to entertain it further.

The meeting was then adjourned.

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