Hockey SA briefing

Sports, Arts and Culture

23 August 2016
Chairperson: Mr S Ralegoma (ANC) (Acting)
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Meeting Summary

SA Hockey presented on the progress in hockey with regard to the targets and challenges that the organisation was facing. It had received a once-off payment of R10 million from the Department of Sport and Recreation (SRSA) in order to assist with the financial difficulties related to the promotion of hockey across the entire country, especially in rural areas where the sport was not widely known. It would also be used for the implementation of programmes that would develop the sport within the schoos’ curriculum, and for the setting up of the Premier Hockey League.

SA Hockey, in partnership with SRSA, had identified rural areas across the country that were in need of assistance in setting up hockey clubs so that disadvantaged players from the communities could participate in the sport. It was also playing a role in community development by keeping youths active and involved in sports, especially in areas identified as highly influenced by gangs.

‘Hockey 5’ was a new initiative that involved teams of five players, a whole new set of rules, and could be played on any surface. Hockey 5 inter-schools tournaments would be played among schools within a 5km radius of their own school. Practice sessions had been planned to take place after school. Matches would last for 20 minutes. The challenge with practice sessions after school was that most learners did not reside within the 5km radius of the school, and therefore had transport commitments which they could not avoid. A counter measure to the problem was to integrate Hockey 5 into the life orientation lessons held once a week at schools, so that learners were not disadvantaged.

The Hockey Premier League was a new division that would be kick-started on 3 September 2016, and would run over a course of four weeks, with games been held on Saturdays and Sundays so that students could return home in time for their Monday classes.

Committee Members raised concerns about the readiness of the league, since there were still no headline sponsors two weeks away from the starting date. They also wanted to know which schools SA Hockey was assisting, and stressed the importance of programmes being aimed at promoting the sport in rural and previously disadvantaged areas. 

Meeting report

Briefing by SA Hockey
Mr Mike du Plessis, President, SA Hockey, introduced his delegation to the Committee, since they would be each presenting on different sections of the presentation.

Ms Marissa Langeni, CEO, SA Hockey, said that the focus of the presentation was on the growth in the game of hockey; the increase in the number of participants at entry level; the increase of youth participants; club assistance and support; and capacity building.

Mr Gary Dolley, Project Manager, SA Hockey, presented details on the growth in the game of hockey. The strategic directive was to grow the game at all levels, and to introduce it as part of the foundation phase of life-skill physical activities, by promoting inter-class competition, and by establishing hubs with schools within a 5km radius. Identified schools would receive start-up equipment to play inter-school competitions. Hockey clubs would adopt schools and form junior club teams that played matches on Saturdays. This strategy was important, because it was first of all fun, cost-effective, had better chances for success, had better playing and learning opportunities for participants, could be played on any level surface, the duration of a match was 20 minutes, and it was suitable for both genders.

Mr Wendell Domingo, President, SA Schools Hockey, presented on the features of ‘Hockey 5’. This strategy had been adopted to promote hockey in areas where the sport was not regularly played. The first phase of the programme involved meetings with the principals of the schools and two educators. The second phase included supplying equipment to the schools. The third phase was a league that was drawn up for the schools so that they could participate in inter-school games with one another. An exciting feature of the programme was that the schools were within a 5km walking distance. One challenge identified was the huge migration of students from distant areas to attend schools in these areas, identified as hubs, so transport was an issue. The programme had therefore been adapted to fit into the life orientation lessons held once a week during normal school hours, so that learners who lived outside of the area were not disadvantaged due to their transport requirements.

The modified programme was in line with what Hockey SA was implementing, and the organisation was hopeful that this would encourage more players to participate at major events. The hope was that as ‘Hockey 5’ grew, the schools would then enter into the main stream and participate in competitions. Benefits of ‘Hockey 5’ included that it was easier to play and watch, more creative and physical, entertaining, action-packed and dynamic, fast-paced, and one could score from anywhere on the field.

Ms Langeni stressed that the aim was to conduct club development workshops, using club development resource packs; to develop incentive schemes for clubs that had a partnership with their local schools; and to develop a system of categorization of clubs to establish the type of support required. Preference would be given to clubs in previously disadvantaged areas, especially black African clubs; clubs with a junior section; and clubs who had a formal partnership with primary schools.

Clubs qualified for assistance by having a clear profile -- a club constitution, a database of members, and good governance practices. This was needed, because Hockey SA wanted to have better structured clubs under them -- clubs which gave opportunities to the community to participate in sport, clubs that developed community spirit, and made the game more affordable for youths and encouraged more young people to play. Measurable outcomes included the high number of clubs who complied with the governance criteria, and the number of clubs who had junior and youth sectors.

Mr Dolley said that in terms of capacity building, the goal was to conduct education and training workshops that focused on coaching; making resources freely available to schools and clubs; technical officiating; umpiring; and administrative and life skills programmes. This was important in order to build capacity within community-based clubs.

Ms Lwandile Simelane, Vice President, SA Hockey, presented on the governance and transformation scorecards. She said that since 15 December 2015, a progress report on geopolitical alignment had been initiated across the nine provinces. In Gauteng, the three regions (Ekurhuleni, City of Johannesburg and City of Tshwane) had been combined into one provincial office, making it a unified body. Creating geopolitical alignment was important, because it was morally the right thing to do. Governance was the cornerstone of all effective structures, and alignment improved the sustainability of the organisation, the marketability of the brand of SA Hockey, and the credibility of the organisation.  It was on a good track in terms of its transformation goals, the Charter and its EPG (Eminent Persons Group). The measurable outcomes included improved data-capturing of annual EPGs, the adoption of the SA Hockey transformation charter, the review of strategic plans, the alignment of operations and activities in transformation score cards, and further progress toward geopolitical alignment.

Ms Langeni stressed the important role that the provinces played when they took the lead in terms of achievements for their own areas. This was where the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was vital to ensure that the different provinces were working toward the same objective of improving the sport, and not just achieving numbers.

Excluding the once-off allocation of R10 million from the Department of Sport and Recreation (SRSA), SA hockey received funds from various sources. These included donations, affiliation fees, SRSA, player contributions, sponsorships, tours and tournaments, etc, which amounted to roughly R7.6 million. The total expenditure amounted to R7.57 million, leaving the organization with a surplus of R72 633.

Ms Langeni moved on to present on the 2016 Premier Hockey League (PHL), which was due to kick off on 1 September 2016. With the premier league, SA Hockey was aiming to follow the same trend of being in the commercial forefront of sports, much like rugby and soccer.

The PHL was aimed to be played at a central venue for 12 teams (six men’s and six women’s teams). Matches would be played on Saturdays and Sundays. The competition would take place over four weeks. 40 matches would take place in total. The league was drawn up in such a way so as to cater for students who would need to report back to schools, colleges or universities on Monday mornings. The games would also be broadcast live on television.

Looking forward to the 2022 Commonwealth Games taking place in Durban, Hockey SA envisaged that they would have the massive support of the South African fan base, and they would also need to start working toward this by focusing on the 2020 Olympic Games. SA hockey had mapped out a calendar by promoting games that would be broadcast so that they could also compete for the broadcast space with other sports. ‘Hockey 5’ would also be promoted in this manner. Over the years, South Africa had been internationally identified as a destination of choice, and SA hockey aimed to capitalise on this publicity by hosting tournaments in the major tourist towns in South Africa, and thereby attract many into supporting the sport.

With the PHL, the aim was to create a festival of the sport so that the fans would be excited to attend matches. The League also aimed to invite stakeholders to host food and drinks carts, and offer live entertainment.

The proposed names of the teams were based on the regions/provinces where they were based. The Mapungubwe Mambas covered the north region of Limpopo and Mpumalanga; the Addo Elephants covered the Eastern Cape, Free State and Northern Cape; the Drakensberg Dragons covered the KZN and inland areas; the Maropeng Cavemen covered the North West and Southern region; the Garden Route Gazelles covered the Western Cape and Boland area, and the Golden Gate Gladiators.  

In terms of branding opportunities for sponsorships, sponsors would have an opportunity to own commercial rights to the different teams, or to become partial sponsors.

Mr Du Plessis said that the league would have sustainability and give the opportunity for sponsors to fund the game. He thanked SRSA for giving the organisation the opportunity to go ahead with their plans for the PHL.

Mr M Malatsi (DA) asked where exactly the disadvantaged schools were situated, so that the Committee could find out for itself if those schools were in fact in disadvantaged areas. He asked how the teams in the Premier League were selected to be clustered into a region, and also what the status was with regard to sponsorships, considering that the tournament was only two weeks away. Also what was the remuneration for players? Why had the financial figures doubled from the 2015 to the 2016 financial year?

Mr D Bergman (DA) commented on what was being done to redirect the constructive criticism as to why the SA team had not participated at the Rio Olympics. He was interested to know what the strategic objective was for the hockey team to reach qualification for the Olympics. What was being done to achieve mass participation for entry into hockey? He asked if maybe the PHL was perhaps being rushed, because the tournament was two weeks away -- as Mr Malatsi had pointed out -- and the process had not been completed yet. He emphasised the need to do this the right way the first time around.

Mr P Moteka (EFF) stressed the importance of the question raised by Mr Malatsi as to where the disadvantaged schools and hubs were situated. He asked how the schools in rural areas were being assisted in order to establish clubs.

Ms B Abrahams (ANC) also asked specifically where the disadvantaged schools were situated, and what criteria were used to identify these schools. What support system was in place for people to understand and comply with the rules of Hockey SA? How did it define ‘black Africans’? Where were black African programmes located? On what had it based its 50% fan base, when the people in the presentation slide were all white youths?

Mr S Mmusi (ANC) complimented Hockey SA on its plan to introduce hockey at the foundation phase.
He asked how it intended to increase the number of facilities as the number of participants grew. He pointed out that it had not given time frames for when it intended to have its plans implemented, and he wanted know what the time frames were. Would the clubs have to pay levies, even if they were part of the Association?

Ms D Manana (ANC) asked why Hockey SA had not presented on the Rio Olympics, and why they had not participated, since they had reached the qualifying stage. What had Hockey SA achieved in previous years, because the programme presented at the meeting would have also been successful if it had been introduced earlier? 

Mr M Mabika (NFP) asked about the schools development programme that targeted schools within a 5km radius, as this sounded like an urban-based situation to him. He asked what the programme implemented for schools in rural areas was, because the situation there was different.

SA Hockey’s response
Mr Du Plessis said that he had not been president of Hockey SA for more than four years, so he had therefore inherited the problems of the previous administration. Qualifying for the Olympics had been based on winning competitions in continental leagues.

Ms Langeni said that the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) applied a general blanket formula that was used for all sporting codes. SA hockey could qualify for the Olympics only through winning the Continental Cup, and the men's team had not qualified for that tournament. The women's team was in round three of the tournament and playing against teams who had already qualified to participate at the Olympics. It had had to achieve a top three ranking which was impossible in such a short period of time, when its ranking was far below the top three positions.

Ms Simelane said that the budget had increased because the number of meetings had increased, and Hockey SA was ensuring in its MOU that it was sticking to its constitutional mandate.

Ms Langeni added that this was also because Hockey SA had increased its monitoring of provincial regions, and they were therefore travelling more.

Ms Simelane said that as the head of governance, she travelled once a year to all the provinces to sit with the provincial executives and ensure that they were complying with the national plan for SA hockey.

Mr Dolley said the disadvantaged areas involved included Westbury in Gauteng, which had been targeted by the Department because it was largely under the influences of gangs. In the Free State, they were involved in the Vaal area. In the Eastern Cape, they were involved in the Gelvandale area, as well as Nkonkobe, in the Amatole district. In KZN, they were involved in KwaMashu. In the Western Cape, the Kraaifontein, Malmesbury, Gaansbaai and Mossel Bay areas had also been identified for involvement. Langa and Athlone ‘central’ were current projects in the Western Cape. All the individual names of schools would be e-mailed to the Committee.

Mr Dolley said they had 34 clubs from all the different regions, such as Gelvandale in the Eastern Cape and Mandalay in Cape Town, even though their grant was not significant. Khayelitsha also received a grant from SA Hockey. They had drawn up a plan to include the sport of hockey into life skills lessons of life orientation which would give them access to all schools, regardless of area.

Ms Simelane pointed out that the challenge with spreading hockey into some areas was that governments in specific provinces were focused on the revival of hockey in areas where the sport was no longer played, instead of promoting it in areas where it had never been played. Finances were also a challenge.

Ms Langeni said that Hockey SA had done a great deal of work to be in a state of readiness for 3 September, when the league kicked off.

She said that the remuneration of players would be covered for every game participated in, as well as for the ‘player of the match’ at every game. The agreed amount for players’ remuneration was R2 500 for commitment to every match, while the player of the match would be awarded an additional R2 500.

With regard to sponsorship, SA Hockey had had setbacks in attracting sponsors for the first year of the league, but this was also an opportunity for them showcase hockey and what they had to offer in competition with other sports, like soccer or rugby. Even if Hockey SA did not have a headline sponsor for the first year, rights would not be given to a sponsor unless they had the necessary income. Hockey SA would offer three-year contracts for sponsors to fund individual teams.

Follow up questions
Mr Mmusi pointed out that not all of his questions had been answered, particularly those about time frames and levies.

Mr Bergman asked if the executive of SA hockey had done enough to fight for the players, because players were already paying their own way to participate in the sport.

Mr Malatsi asked what corrective action was being taken against those who were having unconstitutional meetings of the organisation. He also wanted to know if the remuneration package applied to both genders, and whether there was still no sponsor for the kits.

Mr Moteka expressed his disappointment in Hockey SA and SRSA, because 22 years into democracy, the sport was still benefiting wealthy people, because poor players could not afford to pay for their transport and equipment fees while participating.

Mr Mmusi raised a plea for the Committee not to be biased when asking whether Hockey SA had the capacity to implement all that was required, especially when considering that they had only recently received the R10 million. The Committee should perhaps come up with a plan to assist Hockey SA so that when they came to the Committee at future meetings, and they had not been successful, then the Committee could properly hold them liable.

Ms Manana requested that Hockey SA plea to sponsors for assistance so that they could receive the necessary finances to promote hockey to all the areas in the country, especially the rural areas.

The Chairperson commented that this was the first meeting that Hockey SA was having with the new Portfolio Committee on Sports, and that the Committee would do everything it could to assist them. The objective of the Committee was to promote transformation, and they would penalise Hockey SA if this was not achieved. The Chairperson further said that all the sporting codes needed to be on track with transformation, especially those that had previously disadvantaged race groups and areas.

Response to follow up questions
Ms Simelane said that the meetings were not being held irregularly, but were fewer than what was stipulated to be held in a year under the Hockey SA constitution. There had never been a waste of expenditure.

Ms Langeni pointed out that the affiliation costs were the only costs they could appropriate to finance the organisation’s administrative functions.
Levies were specifically tailored around events and the cost of technical staff, umpires, etc., and players were not requested to pay twice.

The remuneration for players was standard for both men and women.

Ms Langeni said that as much as money was an issue, qualification was stressed more for participation in major international games.

The Chairperson said that the Committee would not compromise on Hockey SA meeting their targets, because once they compromised, then this would mean they were not meeting their targets. He thanked the leadership of Hockey SA for presenting its plans for using the R10 million from the Department, and hoped that it would be helpful in assisting the organisation.

Deliberation on Committee programme
Three meetings were supposed to have been held during the break caused by the election campaigns, and had been moved to the end of the term. The programme for the second term would be to conduct oversight and engage with other sporting codes, chapter 9 institutions and university sports.

During the week of 12 September, the 14th, 15th and 16th had been set aside for oversight, and the following would be Committee meeting week.

The Committee Members all agreed to the proposed programme.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.


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