Tennis SA transformation and performance; Committee’s Third Term Programme

Sports, Arts and Culture

23 June 2015
Chairperson: Ms B Dlulane (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee was briefed by Tennis South Africa (TSA) on the status of its transformation, financial performance, governance and development programmes.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) had just completed a survey, where it had found that more than 444 000 South Africans were playing tennis every week. TSA’s task was just to find where those people were so as to develop the sport further.  SA was one of the founding members of the ITF, with eight votes in the structures of that international body.

A major challenge was that both national and provincial tennis administrators were all volunteers, which spoke to the difficulty in developing tennis districts. However, a case in point was that in KwaZulu Natal (KZN) TSA had developed a project together with the Department of Basic Education (DBE) a few years back. It had trained over 2 000 teachers to coach tennis and run clubs, while the remaining training was on how to keep control of their finances, and reporting. Currently TSA had black officials that were officiating in grand slam tournaments, like the US Open and Wimbledon, and that capacity needed extension so that jobs could be created.

The Committee asked where the tennis hubs in the provinces were located. Who had actually built the facilities in the rural areas, and who was responsible for programmes for their utility and maintenance? How exactly was TSA planning to inculcate an entrepreneurship culture, using tennis as a conduit? What were TSA’s targeted interventions in generating gender representivity at both administrative and actual sport level, and capacity building where officials were concerned, apart from wheelchair tennis?  Were TSA  districts aligned with the new geopolitical boundaries, as set out in the National Sport and Recreation Plan (NSRP)?

The Committee deliberated at length over the procedure to follow after considering whether Members who were absent from a previous meeting could participate in discussions on the minutes, and matters arising from those minutes. The Committee oversight visit report and the minutes were adopted with amendments.

Meeting report

Opening remarks
The Chairperson welcomed everyone and immediately gave Tennis South Africa the platform to present. She appealed to the Committee to not deal with gender representivity in the administration of Tennis South Africa as she had already cautioned and reprimanded the leadership over the lack of women in the federation.

Briefing by Tennis South Africa (TSA)
Mr Gavin Crookes, President, TSA, introduced his delegation and remarked that since tennis was an elite, individual sport, it was expensive. Most of TSA’s challenges lay therein, especially in moving the game past the urban areas to the rural areas.

TSA had received clean audit opinions in its finances for the last 15 years. What was important to the federation was its focus on having the sport played, instead of nurturing the egos of administrators.

Currently Kevin Anderson, who had reached the final last week in the Queen’s tournament in the United Kingdom, was ranked number 14 globally.  Chanelle Scheepers was currently ranked 66th in the world and was showing great promise. Over and above that, athletes of colour were now coming through the ranks in the junior levels of tennis in SA.
There were women, of course, in TSA’s provincial executives, and though it was not very important, the leadership of TSA were completely unremunerated, and were all volunteers who were passionate about the sport. 

Mr Clark Coetzee, Board member, Corporate Governance and Junior Tennis, took the Committee through the presentation. In terms of the TSA’s vision, one challenge was that there were currently unused facilities in some areas of the country. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) had just completed a survey where it had found that more than 444 000 South Africans were playing tennis every week. TSA’s task was to just find where those people were so as to develop the sport further. SA was one of the founding members of the ITF, with eight votes in the structures of that international body.

Mr Coetzee said that Kevin Anderson was a proud citizen of SA who wanted to represent his country, and hopefully TSA could find the sponsorships that could bring him back to SA.

In terms of club development, Mr Coetzee said that TSA had developed a toolbox that clubs could use to run their affairs professionally. It had a constitution template, and gave guidance on how to run meetings and bookkeeping. It would be taken to rural areas as part of TSA’s tennis development in the districts. 

A major challenge was that both national and provincial administrators were all volunteers, which spoke to the difficulty in developing tennis districts. However, a case in point was that in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), TSA had developed a project together with the Department of Basic Education (DBE) a few years back. TSA had trained over 2 000 teachers to coach tennis and run clubs, while the remaining training was on how to keep control of their finances, and reporting. TSA was also lacking statistics on what impact that training had had on the individuals since it had rolled out the programme. If Sport and Recreation South Africa (SRSA) could assist TSA in improving its relations with the DBE, that certainly would make TSA’s work on introducing and developing tennis as a school sport that much more easier.

Currently, TSA had black officials that were officiating at grand slam tournaments like the US Open and Wimbledon, and that capacity needed extension so that jobs could be created.
 
Discussion
Ms B Abrahams (ANC) asked what challenges there were behind getting sponsorships for Kevin Anderson so that he could return to play for SA as a proud citizen. In which areas did wheelchair tennis occur? Where exactly within provinces were the hubs located?

Ms D Manana (ANC) asked what specific challenges TSA faced in developing tennis in districts, and in which provinces did these challenges occur?

Mr S Mmusi (ANC) concurred with TSA’s statement that many tennis courts had been built in schools in the deep rural areas. Who had actually built the facilities and who was responsible for their utility and maintenance?  He also advised TSA to also consider lobbying the Minister of Education in trying to develop tennis further as a school sport, over and above lobbying SRSA to assist. How exactly was TSA planning to inculcate an entrepreneurship culture, using tennis as a conduit? Though TSA was receiving unqualified opinions and was breaking even in terms of revenue, the intention certainly had to be making tennis a profitable career choice for athletes. What was causing the federation to break even?

Mr M Malatsi (DA) was concerned about the figure from the International Tennis Federation (ITF) survey that indicated about 500 000 participants were playing tennis in SA, but TSA were not aware where exactly those people could be found in the country. TSA’s lobbying had to include liaising with both the national and provincial Departments of SRSA and the DBE so as to have an aligned investment outcome in terms of youth that were struggling to access tennis as a school sport, or a club sport in communities. What were TSA’s targeted interventions in generating gender representivity both at the administrative and actual sport level, and capacity building where officials were concerned, apart from wheelchair tennis?

Mr D Bergman (DA) said that what often attracted young talent to particular sporting codes was the current crop of heroes in those codes. Unfortunately, the athletes mentioned by TSA were new even to the Committee, and possibly it could be ignorance on the Committee’s side. The worst that could happen was to see television images of the Minister of SRSA visiting athletes in some sporting codes when there could also be some deserving tennis players whom he could also visit. A big challenge he had historically identified was the dilapidation of tennis courts after four to five years in the townships. Was there a way of developing a rural start-up programme, using the multipurpose sport courts mentioned by SRSA in their briefings?

The Chairperson asked Mr Crookes to elaborate on what he meant when he said that tennis was an elite sport. Were the TSA affiliates in all districts aligned with the new geopolitical boundaries as set out in the National Sport and Recreation Plan (NSRP)? The Sports Trust was a partner that TSA could access in assisting with the development of tennis in poor, rural communities.

Ms B Dlomo (ANC) said that she would have appreciated specifics on how much investment there had been in developing tennis in rural areas, in terms of the pie charts that TSA had presented. How many tennis tournaments had TSA assisted in rolling out in the continent, or hosted in SA for the continent?

Mr Coetzee replied that getting tennis into communities could be addressed only by communities showing a passion to want to play tennis themselves. To that extent, almost all the questions asked could be answered through TSA getting the children involved in tennis, or making it attractive to them. Parents would certainly follow, if that could be achieved. That was why the federation was seeking assistance in getting a strategic relationship with the DBE, as that included rural areas and the sport hubs.

Mr Riad Davids, Vice President, TSA, said that the TSA Board understood that if it did not take tennis to poor, rural areas, government funding would cease. Since there was already standing infrastructure in urban areas, TSA had initially bussed rural athletes into these facilities, as a large number of those learners were already either schooling in the inner city or close by. However, TSA had not really gone out to the rural areas to develop tennis, though there was a sprinkling of areas where it had very good programmes currently running.

Mr Petros Abraham, Board Member, Development & Transformation, TSA, said that he had been attracted to tennis through a sponsored programme at his primary school, though he was from Khayelitsha, Cape Town.
One of TSA’S interventions was an outreach programme into rural communities as outlined in TSA’s Development & Transformation strategy, which was still to be rolled out. To that extent, since June 2014 he had been surveying all the provinces and districts collecting information on where there was development already, so that the extension of the outreach could assist structures that had already been set-up.

The Chairperson then gave a member of the public who had attended the proceedings a chance to engage TSA.

Mr Ludwe Joka, Chairperson, Gugulethu Tennis Academy Club (GTAC), said that he understood and appreciated the challenges being brought forth by TSA.  He then chronicled how he had become involved in tennis when a tennis court had been built in Gugulethu, Cape Town. He had been coaching since 2012 in about eight different schools and at the Sea Point Tennis Club. With the tennis club he had opened in 2012, Western Cape (WC) tennis had accepted GTAC’s affiliation and the club had participated in the tennis league of the province. 

His current challenge was that since he had lost his job late in 2014, he had been struggling to attend the provincial structure meetings, as they were generally in the evening. That had affected the GTAC’s access to assistance from the province. His plea therefore was for the GTAC to be assisted as before.

Ms Manana asked whether Mr Joka had engaged SRSA’s provincial department or the provincial tennis federation president over his specific challenges and need for assistance. She suggested that Mr Joka should engage the leadership of tennis after the meeting.

Mr Bergman commented that Mr Joka was lucky to have had entry to the Committee proceedings, but his concern was that there were many similar stories across the country; and as sad this was, how was the Committee to reach all those with stories to tell?

The Chairperson said that the Committee could access more people in Mr Joka’s position, as it had done during the oversight visit in Limpopo, where it had managed to source rugby equipment for clubs that had engaged the Committee during oversight.

Mr Crookes said that seeing that Mr Joka had alluded to what challenges TSA was facing, he could name at least 200 such cases in Gauteng alone. TSA understood Mr Joka’s situation, and suggested that TSA should get together with him to design a project that would address the situation in Gugulethu.

Mr Davids enumerated the hubs that TSA had in Cape Town, noting that TSA would work towards setting a hub in Gugulethu. Moreover it would get Mr Joka on to the level one coaching course for development tennis. TSA had currently received funding from the National Lotteries Board (NLB) to build a clubhouse in Bonteheuwel and Langa only, in Cape Town. A coach certainly could be made available for the GTAC, as there was capacity in the province to do that.       

The Chairperson instructed the Committee researcher to track the progress of Mr Joka’s situation from that day onwards.

Mr Malatsi suggested that regarding equipment, the Committee could submit a request to the Sports Trust for the supply of balls and racquets. He also felt that a lack of funding seemed to be an easy branch for entities and federations to use for lack of action.

Committee’s follow-up oversight visit to Limpopo
The draft report was adopted without any amendments.

Committee’s third term programme for 2015
The Committee Secretary spoke to the changes that Parliament had effected in terms of both oversight visits and the Committee’s proposed programme for the third term.

Mr Malatsi suggested that the Committee consider inviting the United School Sports Association of South Africa (USSASA) on 15 September 2015, when it would be receiving a briefing from the University Sports of South Africa (USSA), since the two bodies were overseeing schools sport from basic to tertiary education. Moreover, that could also assist in dealing with the extent of collaboration between line federations.

The Committee said that as useful as Mr Malatsi’s proposal was, the brief to USSA had been so lengthy and involved it could compromise the engagement with USSA in terms of time. However, that decision would ultimately lie with Management Committee (MANCO).

Furthermore, the Committee had also decided that to save costs on oversight, it would be useful to split delegations so that it could cover more events during the recess, provided the staff component and the Chairperson were made aware of such instances, especially if Members would be going individually.

The Committee adopted its programme with substantive amendments on dates for oversight visits.

Adoption of minutes
Members considered the minutes of the Committee’s meeting on 9 June 2015.
 
The Committee argued at length over the legitimacy of whether Members could partake in the matters arising from minutes of a meeting where Members were absent. The majority agreed that the convention was that Members who were absent were barred from partaking, even in matters arising, since such participation could change the content or either influence the context of that meeting which the Member had missed.

The minutes were adopted with substantive amendments in terms of corrections of statements quoted as made by Members during that meeting.

Committee matters
The Chairperson informed the Committee that her office had been in contact with Minister Fikile Mbalula to come before the Committee to elaborate on the statements he had made around the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) scandal in the awarding of bids to host the Soccer World Cup (SWC) investigation by the United States of America (USA). The Minister had informed the Chairperson he could be available only after the recess, as he had been requested to attend to the visit by the Cuban Six to South Africa.

Mr Malatsi asked what the Committee’s position would be from then on, considering the challenges around the Committee’s programme being changed from time to time. Would the Committee wait for a date from the Minister’s office?

The Chairperson replied that if Mr Malatsi still felt strongly about the matter, it could be followed up at the start of the third term.

Mr S Ralegoma (ANC) said that the fact that promoters were not paying boxers was one of the major challenges facing Boxing South Africa (BSA), and that was why the Committee, with SRSA, had pushed for the return of boxing to television screens across the nation. Over and above that was the issue that the Committee had not met with the Promoters’ Association. The amendment of the Boxing Act would also assist in trying to get people to be accountable for their promises.

The Chairperson asked the Committee researcher to give the Committee a historical and current perspective of what the issues were concerning unpaid boxers.

Mr Mphumzi Mdekazi, Committee Researcher, informed the Committee that the only global body that was both impoverishing SA boxers and using the Boxing Act of the country to advantage promoters over boxers, was the International Boxing Federation (IBF), which was based in USA. He enumerated at least four boxers who had had to relinquish their titles because of the challenges

The Chairperson said that the Committee had to put pressure on BSA and SRSA to deal with those challenges surrounding boxers not being paid.

The meeting was adjourned. 

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