South African Figure Skating Association 2020/21 Annual Report

Sports, Arts and Culture

06 September 2022
Chairperson: Ms B Dlulane (ANC)
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Meeting Summary


The Committee convened on a virtual platform to receive a Department of Sport, Arts and Culture (DSAC) overview of the South African Figure Skating Association. It introduced the South African Figure Skating Association, its objectives, the Department funding given to this federation, membership statistics and location of ice rinks where SAFSA is represented.

The SAFSA President presented the 2020/21 Annual Report and spoke to pertinent matters. SAFSA is a 25 year old non-profit organisation with the objective of fostering greater interest in figure skating while continually implementing the Long Term Participant Development Plan (LTPDP). Topics covered included demographics of the sport, the effect of Covid-19, club membership and training facilities.

Committee members ask what the DSAC annual funding to SAFSA is used for, plans to promote ice skating as a sport in rural areas, the absence of ice rinks in some provinces, demographics of coaches and club members, number of previously disadvantaged individuals (PDIs) that are part of the honorary members and long standing members, travelling costs of athletes and funding of trips, the absence of the financial statements in the presentation, safeguarding policy to prevent sexual abuse of minors, expanding the sport in an inclusive manner, number of members at a competitive stage, developing facilities which support transformation and maximum mobilisation, state facility, sponsorships received by SASFA and the effects of Covid-19 on the Association.

SAFSA does not own any facilities and all ice rinks in South Africa belong to private owners. The cost of establishing one ice rink costs R20 million with R2 million in annual overhead costs. There are ice rinks in the other provinces and SAFSA establishing more clubs in more provinces will expand and mobilise participation in the sport. The financial statements have been submitted to the Department and it will submit these to the Committee. SAFSA corrected the funding amount as R300 000 where R100 000 was spent on its administration costs and R200 000 on figure skating development projects.

The Department explained that the federation first received funding in 2020/21. It enforces a strict ruling that if a federation does not have a safeguarding policy, it will not look at its application.

Meeting report

DSAC Overview of South African Figure Skating Association
Ms Sumayya Khan, DSAC Deputy Director General: Recreation and Sports Development, advised that Mr Mncube would provide the presentation as her throat is strained due to bronchitis.

Mr Simphiwe Mncube, DSAC Chief Director: Federation Support, introduced the South African Figure Skating Association which was appearing before the Committee for the first time. SAFSA is not part of the priority codes and therefore is not part of the federations reviewed by the Eminent Persons Group (EPG). He outlined its objectives highlighting the support DSAC has given to SASFA. R400 000 was funded to the federation for 2021/22 for high-performance programmes and inter-provincial competitions that lead to national championships.

Membership statistics were 2 352 where 1 645 of the members fall in the category of junior woman (under 19). The location of ice rinks in South Africa were listed, showing the presence of ice rinks in not all provinces. Although figure skating is an Olympic sport, unfortunately South Africa has not qualified for major events in some time. The code did not feature at the 2018 and 2022 Commonwealth Games and last qualified for the Olympics in 1998. Admittedly, the limited number of ice rinks do not bode well for the code and citizens. This is an area where DSAC needs to engage with the federation to find solutions, including but not limited to motivations to the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) for funding.

South African Figure Skating Association (SAFSA) Annual Report 2020/21
SAFSA President, Mr Ricardo Jacobs, described the history of SAFSA , a 25 year old non-profit organisation with its roles performed by volunteer office bearers. Its primary objective is to foster greater interest in the sport of figure skating with its four disciplines, while continually implementing the Long Term Participant Development Plan (LTPDP). Demographics of the sport noted that 48% of members are from previously disadvantaged groupings. The Covid-19 pandemic had an impact on this sport. Training of officials was done but an online platform was developed for training seminars. These were held for both judges and coaches during the year. Competitions and international participation such as SAFSA National Championships did not take place due to Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Jacobs expressed the necessity to address the effects of the pandemic on figure skating as no local competitions or international participation could take place. However, membership statistics as at 31 March 2021 have remained unchanged from the previous reporting period despite the Covid-19 pandemic and shut-down. The statistics of direct membership, club membership, development and proficiency tests, and training facilities were shown. The governance of SAFSA and the standing committees of SAFSA Council were noted.

Ms Jo Cossavella, SAFSA National Public Relations Officer, gave information in the Zoom Chat about the benefits of figure skating and that one of the ways to popularise the sport is to receive funding to make the membership fees at clubs affordable as the rink owners dictate the cost of the ice rink hire. Statistics relating to 2022 National Figure, Average cost estimation, demographic profile, international participation and international Olympic sponsorship/scholarship were also added to the Chat. Apologies were noted for the remaining SAFSA Council members not being present due to employment commitments and being unable to present the financial statements.

Mr T Mhlongo (DA) welcomed the presentation but was not impressed with the lack of accountability shown by the absence of the SAFSA treasurer to present the 2020/21 financial statements. He asked what has happened to the R400 000 per annum that SAFSA is allocated? Which year did the Department start supporting figure skating financially and SAFSA accounted on their financial status? Can SAFSA confirm if they received funding in the years 2019, 2020 and 2021? What is the Department plan to increase or promote ice skating as a public sport in rural areas, noting the lack of ice rinks in Limpopo, North West and other provinces. What will the Department do to support this sporting code? Where are the financial statements?

Ms R Adams (ANC) welcomed the presentation and noted that while SAFSA is the only association on the African continent, what are the efforts and collaboration at a professional level on the continent? What are the demographics of the volunteer office barriers and if it does not reflect the diversity of the demographics of the nation, how will SAFSA ensure inclusion? With the level of transformation of direct members yielding 18.84%, why does membership have a low representation of previously disadvantaged groups? How many PDIs are part of the honorary members and longstanding members? In the event of figure skating athletes receiving national colours to represent South African internationally, does the federation cover full travelling costs of athletes or are athletes required to fund their own trips?

Mr Sibiya asked who instructed the remaining SAFSA members who were to present the financial statement not come to the Committee? He questioned the economic statistics for figure skating and how sustainable it is for skaters.

Mr M Zondi (ANC) echoed the question on how to popularise the figure skating sporting code. Some municipalities do not have ice rinks, to which the sporting code is directly related. Only the metros can afford to have ice rinks and the popularising of ice skating across rural communities would be difficult. Have there been cases of sexual abuse of minors or adolescents in figure skating? Has the Association briefed the Committee on its safeguarding policy and the measures in place to protect adolescents from sexual abuse? What is the plan about developing the four disciplines of figure skating? How will the sport be grown in an inclusive manner? With 48% of club members from previously disadvantaged groups, how many of these members are at a competitive stage and represent South Africa internationally? What is the plan for developing facilities which support transformation with maximum mobilisation?

Mr D Joseph (DA) asked the Department to provide a list containing the 15 priority sports codes supported, and guidance in understanding the priority list. What was the R400 000 that SAFSA received in 2021/22 spent on? What national and international events were attended in the three to four years prior to Covid-19? Are fees paid to the Commonwealth or any other international organisations? How is transformation built into the SAFSA plan for developing the sport? What were the dates that the training of officials and judges took place? What is the cost of the membership and training provided for the programmes and training courses? How much of the budget and R400 000 funding is spent on administration and how much goes directly into projects?

He asked for the cost of establishing a private or state ice rink facility. Are the organisations governing the sports code present at events and interacting with people to promote club sport and sign up new club members?

Ms V Van Dyk (DA) asked when SAFSA has received funding previously and reported on it. She noted concern about the lack of presentation of financial statements. What does SAFSA do to prevent sexual abuse?

Ms V Malomane (ANC) asked if SAFSA has coaches from previously disadvantaged groups based on the 48% PDI statistic for club membership. What is the SAFSA plan to recover from the impact of COVID-19 in its closure of sports activities and the loss incurred? Given the DSAC annual grant, how does the federation remain sound and stable and does it have sponsors? What is the cost associated with participation if figure skating is televised by a broadcasting station?

Mr B Madlingozi (EFF) questioned if SAFSA is taking the Portfolio Committee seriously due to the lack of financial statements presented, especially if it wishes to receive funding support by Parliament in future. Are they independently secure in getting financing from other sources, and if so, are there individual sponsors financing it from home/abroad? Where do they have ice rinks in previously disadvantaged communities. Who are these people spoken about as previously disadvantaged and what are their names? How and when was ice skating started in South Africa?

Mr C Sibisi (NFP) noted South Africa has failed to participate in the Olympics and Commonwealth Games in figure skating. Is SAFSA serious about participation? As per the organogram where only seniors and juniors are shown, does SAFSA cater for youths?

The Chairperson asked what is meant by “privately owned” facilities? What are the plans to expand the sport to other provinces? What are challenges in developing facilities in other provinces? Why is the membership of women higher than men in the sport? What is the factor that attracts more women than men to the sport? She instructed that the SAFSA financial statements need to be submitted in seven days.

SAFSA response
Mr Ricardo Jacobs, SAFSA President, defined privately owned ice rinks, stating that SAFSA does not own any facilities and that all ice rinks in South Africa belong to private businesses and owners. The cost of establishing one ice rink will cost R20 million and it has R2 million per annum in overhead costs. This is the reason there are not many facilities in South Africa.

On expanding the sport to other provinces, he replied that establishing more clubs in more provinces will do just that. There is a privately owned ice rink in Mpumalanga, North West and Limpopo and SAFSA is setting R100 000 aside for the costs involved to establish clubs. He emphasised the importance of stakeholders giving their support to develop more clubs. He has engaged with owners of ice rinks in Mpumalanga, North West and Limpopo and SAFSA plans to facilitate clubs there.

On the higher membership numbers for women, he replied that this is due to the attractiveness of the sport to women such as the pretty dress and more to their liking, compared to boys and men preferring ice hockey.

Mr Jacobs assured the Committee that the financial statements were submitted to the Department of Sport, where it currently sits and that everything is up to date. Financial statements will be provided to the Committee within a couple of days. He corrected the 2020/21 funded amount as R300 000, where R100 000 was spent on SAFSA administration costs and R200 000 on figure skating development projects. All money received by SAFSA is well accounted for.

On efforts and collaboration that the Association has on the continent, Mr Jacobs confirmed they are the only skating association on the African continent. They have partnered up with Egypt, Senegal and Kenya and will be guiding them to get to a national and international standard.

On ensuring inclusion and diversity and the demographics/volunteers office barriers, he replied that the demographics of the Western Cape and Kwa-Zulu Natal are diverse, whereas in Gauteng, there is an affordability struggle in the black and coloured demographic group. Since taking over the helm as President of SAFSA, 50% implementation of women in council was applied, with transformation being the key and the drive is to grow diversity. On the 18.84% statistic for the level of transformation of direct members, money was set aside for PDIs; however, hiring of facilities creates expenses.

On national colours awarded for figure skating, only competitors that compete in junior world championships and international competitions are awarded SAFSA colours. This is not Protea colours. Junior and senior levels are presented with colours as followed via SASCOC.

On economic statistics and affordability of SAFSA, as mentioned by Ms Cossavella, SAFSA was seen as a white elite sport. He has been part of SAFSA for over 10 years and has been able to raise his voice while at the helm and was able to ensure SAFSA has grown economically. In the last six to ten years, the account balance of SAFSA has grown from R14 000 to R2 million, without receiving funding from the Department of Sport. SAFSA has only received funding from the Department for the last two years.

On the suitability of figure skating as a sport, affordability was mentioned again. The situation of the sport not having facilities owned by SAFSA ensures that affordability becomes a question. All South Africans are targeted and SAFSA has created avenues to help PDI members and thus make figure skating affordable.

Mr Jacobs confirmed that there had never been a case of sexual abuse of minors or adolescents in SAFSA figure skating.

Mr Jacobs replied that its safeguarding policy was rolled out with The Guardian. International federations are on board and it is ahead of the curve with safeguarding. The policy document is with the Department of Sport.

Ms Cossavella confirmed that SAFSA has partnered with The Guardian and parents on the principle that if you are not safeguarding, you will not coach. The Guardian has an anonymous application to report sexual abuse. The training and awareness about safeguarding is ongoing.

Mr Jacobs replied that SAFSA has received funding for a period of two years. In 2020/21, R300 000 was given. In 2021/22, R350 000 was given and used for day to day running and good governance. Of this, R100 000 was used on admin and the remaining R250 000 was used for development projects.

On national and international events were not attended 3-4 years prior to Covid-19 by SAFSA. Due to the international event fees concerning the Commonwealth Games, sending athletes with SAFSA's financial constraints, and figure skating being a small sport in South Africa, did not allow for these events to be attended. The Association tries to support but cannot fully fund trips. Selection of first, second and third placed athletes would be prioritized and parents and provincial bodies help fund the trip for the athlete.

No fees are paid to the Commonwealth. They have never been given the opportunity to compete in Winter Sports. SAFSA is a member of International Skating Union (ISU) international federation and membership fees of R8 000 are paid annually.

The dates and costs of training of officials and judges are listed in the Annual Report submitted to DSAC and also found in the financials.

Organisations promote the sport of figure skating and the signing up of new members on big screen TVs, figure skating shows and have a presence at schools.

On the impact of the pandemic, coaches felt the majority of the impact. Due to the shutting down of these facilities, pupils could no longer attend classes.

The federation does not have any financial sponsors. The federation does have material sponsors who sponsor water bottles. They have no big sponsors on the books. International federations support funding for development where all funding is for development to assist athletes that travel internationally.

The cost of a pair of skates ranges from R2 000-R10 000. Project funding is used to make it more affordable for participants. On average, the monthly cost for lessons, membership fees and costumes would amount to R5 500-R10 000.

A slightly different system is used in categorising seniors and juniors, where juveniles would consist of children between the age of 3 - Grade 11. After Grade 11, participants tend to drop out due to matric year being the main focus. More youth participate in figure skating than adults and SAFSA caters for youth.

Ms Cossavella detailed the SAFSA project where matriculants are targeted as once the youngsters write exams, “they fall through the crack”. Grabbing specifically black athletes from areas such as KwaZulu Natal, Gauteng, Western Cape is important because after matric they can go on to figure skating in university. At university level, black athletes will be developed into coaches and judges and this is methodical process that cannot happen overnight.

The current way to promote figure skating is extensive marketing drives. Challenges that the federation faces is the allocated time to make use of the ice rink facilities at 5am which proves to be very difficult to adhere to in some provinces considering the travelling from the rural areas to these facilities. Funding will assist SAFSA to pay for more ice time and increasing the number of PDIs in figure skating. Due to SAFSA being an NPO, funding must come from marketing and the public relations budget, potentially partnering with companies, hosting national figure skating championships, increasing foot traffic and not just live streaming of the sport. This will promote the sport to a wider database.

Ms Cossavella concluded by inviting one and all onto the ice.

DSAC response
Ms Khan explained that figure skating is not part of the EPG. There are 19 codes of sport, where factors such as mass participation, high performance and sports that historically needed greater transformation, are assessed and brought into the Code of Transformation Agenda. This list was not exhaustive as the 19 do not make up the entire landscape of recognised sports where a sample is taken and put through the EPG process and then built upon. Figure skating has not been part of that process.

On how much of the SAFSA funding goes towards admin and development programmes, Ms Khan replied that the funding criteria consisting of two streams: guaranteed funding (used for administration) and conditional funding (deals with Transformation Charter). She confirmed that SAFSA is aware of the funding criteria.

On priority codes of sport and providing documentation on this, Ms Khan replied that this information can be found in Department annual report. Ms Khan listed the 16 codes as football, netball, rugby, athletics, basketball, volleyball, goal ball (partially sighted), swimming, gymnastics, hockey, softball, chess, table-tennis, tennis and open amateur boxing. The determining of whether a code is a priority or not, is premised on broadly two things: 1. codes of sport that have the potential to bring medals and glory to South Africa (direct link to participating at events at world champs, Olympic, Commonwealth, continental level); 2. The people aspect relating to mass participation and physical activity. She confirmed that the Department is currently in the process of finalising a prioritisation policy.

Ms Khan re-emphasised that having access to facilities is important. Where there are no facilities, this results in no participation and no code. Facilities for the sport are expensive, with a basic level structure being built for R19 million.

Ms Khan stated that in the long term, technicalities such as the needs of people must be addressed, necessitating building an interest in figure skating where there is none. She suggested that the code would have to plan to take to other provinces to go to other areas and look at how facilities could be developed. It uses the Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) formula and it is aware that there is no funding. The Durban ice rink facility in the Olive Convention Centre is used as an example to demonstrate how one facility used for ice skating, also hosts other activities such as the Telkom Netball Championships, ensuring rink owners get maximum revenue from facilities.

Mr Mncube addressed the questions on the funding given over the years and the financial statements and compliance issues. He confirmed that since the election of the new SAFSA President, Mr Ricardo Jacobs, he has seen improvement over the past two years.

The federation had only received funding in the financial year of 2020/21 due to the assistance of Mr Jacobs. The federation had not received funding from the years of 2017-2020 due to non compliance in terms of submission of audited financial statements. Prior to 2020/21, funding was last provided in 2016/17. The Department is currently awaiting submission of 31 March 2022 audited financial statements for funding consideration.

Mr Mncube noted that Ms Khan had covered the promotion of the sport in the form of infrastructure. On safeguarding requirements, he noted how committed the Department is to this policy where if a federation does not have a safeguarding policy, it will not have its funding application considered by DSAC.

Further discussion
Mr Mhlongo asked what the criteria are to build sporting codes in the community. He uses the example of the Orlando community. He asked the correct date for all sporting codes to submit their financial statements. Is it after 6 months or 12 months?

Ms Khan replied that the Norms and Standards of Infrastructure and Development consists of two volumes: an operations manual and technical information. She advised that one would need to start off at developmental level, determining which sport code would lend itself to participation, comply with the norms and standards document classification framework. An example would be building a 30k person stadium in a community with only space and means to accommodate 10k (overnight stay, infrastructure, maintenance etc). This Norms and Standards document does not cater for the figure skating fraternity.

Mr Mncube replied that the correct date for all entities and sporting codes to submit their financial statements was by 26 August 2022. By that date, only 45 out of 65 federations had complied.

Ms Khan stated that disability is cross-cutting and one has to make provision for this. All sport codes have to adhere to the Transformation Charter, where it is made clear that people with disability must be included according to a clause in the South African Sports and Recreation Act.

Mr B Madlingozi (EFF) stated that the sporting codes are targeted only at elite and rich members of society and has no African orientation. Ice skating needs an artificial territory to be created and it is a sport that entertains foreign Westerners. Due to the cost of sustaining these facilities and the lower participation of black kids, the less financial support received from the Department, the better. He asked what kind of knock would the Department incur to build a facility in rural areas?

Ms Khan explained the process of building a facility in rural areas starting with this competence lying within local government. There is a specific process with the Integrated Development Plan (IDP) in which all people are able to participate. The community is able to give input and participate in the IDP. Even if this process is followed, there is no guarantee that funding will be received in light of general funding constraints. She encouraged communities to participate in the IDP process in order for their needs to be catered for.

Mr Jacobs explained that figure skating is about more than just a sport as importantly it helps build useful members of society. He used his own testimony to illustrate how ice skating is for people of colour and the doors opened for him. He reminded the Committee that the financial statements have already been submitted to the Department and the reason this was not considered is due to an issue with SASCOC.

The Chairperson asked DSAC to assist in submitting SAFSA financial statements in seven days.

Ms V Van Dyk (DA) requested that Mr Jacobs withdraw his statement about females being more drawn to the sport because they like pretty things as it can be interpreted as offensive. She asked what the federation is doing to promote figure skating across gender.

Mr Jacobs apologised and assured them that he had not intended the comment to be offensive. Based on his personal experience of both boys and girls seeing the rink for the first time, he shared that the girls would be naturally drawn to the dress and beauty of the skaters.

Ms Van Dyk (DA) asked if a tender process was used for the SAFSA safeguarding partnership with The Guardian, if the position was advertised and how many companies applied.

Mr Joseph thanked Ms Khan for the detailed feedback. He suggested that a facility be placed in the biggest province as an investment where this sporting code could be started. He referenced televised boxing and the enjoyment of people in watching matches and stated the same should be done for figure skating. He asked what happened to make South Africa not meet international standards. He questioned the differences in membership numbers and if it is the number of actual members or the number of interested people at a private facility.

The Chairperson thanked everyone as the Committee had to conclude the meeting. She requested the outstanding documents be provided within seven days.

The Committee adopted the minutes of 24 and 30 August 2022 and the meeting adjourned.

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