United Cricket Board and Athletics SA Transformation :briefing

Sports, Arts and Culture

22 October 2004
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041022pcsport

SPORT AND RECREATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
22 October 2004
UNITED CRICKET BOARD AND ATHLETICS SA TRANSFORMATION :BRIEFING

Chairperson:
Mr B Komphela (ANC)

Documents handed out
United Cricket Board 2003 World Cup Legacy Projects Status Report
United Cricket Board Profile
United Cricket Board Strategic Plan
United Cricket Board Summer Handbook

SUMMARY
The Committee received briefings from Athletics South Africa and the United Cricket Board on progress in transformation, challenges faced and key strategic objectives. Notable issues raised by Members included selection criteria employed by national organisations, development progress within previously disadvantaged urban and rural areas, the effective utilisation of limited resources, anticipated changes within the structure of cricket management, and continued government and Committee involvement in achieving transformation objectives.

MINUTES
The Chairperson declared the intention of the Committee to work closely with representatives of the sporting codes in South Africa to promote wider access to sport by the general population. A key consideration was what progress had been made in ten years of democracy in transforming particular sports and proposed strategies for future development. In 1994, other priorities had taken precedence over sport in addressing legacies of the previous dispensation, but recent pronouncements by the President had reinvigorated government commitment to sports development. Sport was regarded as a primary vehicle for national unification, job creation and promoting healthy lifestyles. A new vision was in place and additional finances would be forthcoming to assist development initiatives.

Athletics South Africa briefing
Mr Tshwane (President) concurred that such meetings with the Committee were invaluable in honing co-operation and partnership between government and administrators.

Mr Sindane (CEO) provided background on the development programme planned by the federation to attract a wider involvement from the previously disadvantaged. Cross-country running had been identified as the flagship of the programme as no major investments were needed and it provided an entry-point to middle-and- long distance track events. Reference was made to the success of the Kenyans and Ethiopians in track competitions as a yardstick. The intention of the ASA was to fast-track development and change the demographics of selected teams. Currently, tensions were growing following team selections and this required urgent attention. Satisfactory results were being achieved at the youth and junior team levels and ASA was the only federation that had produced major medals from black athletes. Recently medals were also achieved in the sprint events which was encouraging. This indicated that black South Africans could excel at the faster events with better opportunities and facilities. The Commonwealth Association of South Africa rejected the team put forward by ASA and demanded alterations as the gaining of medals was the priority and in their opinion, the first list lacked some top performers. This had caused consternation within ASA.

The Chairperson asked for further information on the criteria used to reject the initial list and the position of the Commonwealth Association in relation to ASA.

Mr Sindane was unsure of the exact reasons for the decision but the stated version was the desire for more medals from top-ranked athletes. Country rankings are equivalent to Commonwealth rankings which the association wanted to adhere to. ASA planned to focus on the Olympic Games on the prescribed four-year basis and improve representivity within the Olympic team. Presently, adequate representation occurred within cross-country competitions but few black South Africans were appearing in track and field events. Progress was being achieved in integrating disabled athletes into competitive athletics. A list of recent team selections for major international events was provided indicating team demographics. An overall assessment was that more medals should be generated with greater female participation.

The youth and junior teams displayed improved demographic statistics. Sound results at a high -level of competition required greater opportunities and meaningful experience. Variable training occurred at the school level which impacted negatively on results.

A major challenge was the continued lack of adequate financing but this was likely to improve given new government commitments and discussions with the Lottery Board. The middle and long distance squad would look at improved access to track facilities. Previously, the mines had supported athletics but this involvement had waned. Potential athletes came from poor families with limited resources which complicated performance. Women tended to face social concerns which stunted enthusiasm and opportunity. Woman coaches were in short supply which hindered the identification of future stars.

Athletics at the provincial level was dominated by road-running clubs to the detriment of track athletics. International athletes started on the track and then progressed to marathon running as age intervened. Low levels of interest prevailed at provincial level for track events. Proposed improvements centred on heightened management and administration, the composition of the Board, Road Running and Track and Field Commissions and improved representivity. More events would be held in townships. The international athletics season climaxed in July/August and local athletes were not fully fit following winter which had an adverse effect on performance. South Africa possessed few indoor facilities.

Discussion
Mr T Louw (ANC) proposed that Members return to their respective study groups and develop strategic proposals to assist ASA in the task at hand.

Mr D Dikgacwi (ANC) inquired about the decision to change the initial list forwarded to the Commonwealth Games Association and the relationship between ASA and the CGASA.

Mr E Mtshali (ANC) asked about varying levels of developmental success between provinces and what characterised the discrepancies.

Mr S Masango (DA) proposed that the CGASA present a briefing on their decision-making process and the criteria used.

Mr L Reid (ANC) suggested that inter-department meetings be held between the Departments of Sport and Recreation and Minerals and Energy to discuss future financial support from mining companies.

Mr Sindane responded that the team was rejected due to a lack of conformity with the existing national rankings and the desire for increased medals. The CGASA served as an umbrella body for all affiliated sporting codes that participated and ASA had to conform with its directives. The Annual General Meeting of ASA provided an opportunity for provinces to declare strategies and compare achievements. Provinces had the responsibility to aggregate talent and forward it to the national level. However, currently a lack of commitment to development prevailed within provinces which necessitated alteration. Potential talent was not being identified and fed through to the national structure. Existing development officers were not effective and the entire system required an over-haul. Increased opportunities for women were a priority within the development plan.

Mr Mtshali referred to a letter detailing a parent's discontent with the omission of his son from the Commonwealth Games team after initial selection. The athlete in question had achieved success at a local level and seemed to meet the stipulated requirements. Legislation to alter the attitude of the Commonwealth federation was recommended.

Mr Tshwane stated that an official apology had been forwarded to the parent in question from ASA expressing the intervention by the CGA. The ASA intended to pursue the matter with CGA.

The Chairperson inquired about the current approach at provincial level regarding development and whether ward committees were involved.

Mr Sindane replied that the programme encapsulated talent identification meetings at a provincial level within zones through competitions. A team would be selected and compete at a wider provincial level from which an inter-provincial team would be chosen. This team would then compete at a national level. Currently resources were not being provided to the provinces for development but the plan was to achieve success in a cost-effective manner.

Mr Mtshali asked what success had been recorded at the township level and if any, how had this been achieved?

Mr Sindane replied that success varied from province to province but notable achievements included the Border-Kei and Free State regions where grassroots development was occurring.

The Chairperson stated that the Committee and a study group of the ANC would formulate a plan to assist ASA in implementing its objectives. Attention would be focused on the mining industry to identify possible financial support. Discussion with the Portfolio Committee on Minerals and Energy would be arranged. Clarity was sought on the type of remuneration offered to athletes and whether this ensured a meaningful standard of living. Improved amounts of sponsorship were needed to fast-track development. Current stadiums could be adapted to include athletics facilities and collaboration with the army could provide a greater number of qualified coaches.

Mr Sindane responded that remuneration was a controversial subject. ASA considered a holistic approach to athlete support including financial support, supplements and training assistance but adequate remuneration remained a concern. Many sponsors had left athletics and athletes tended to gravitate to other more profitable sports such as rugby. ASA was not a well-supported body and the leadership enjoyed a tainted reputation with other federations. Nationally, most substantial sponsorship went to the major sports leaving a small segment to be divided between numerous sporting codes. Facilities tended to be privately-owned clubs which municipalities had privatised. Access remained a problem which hampered crucial track preparation. The establishment of a national academy was viewed as a viable response to the challenges.

The Chairperson commented that the Committee saw the privatisation of facilities by municipalities as a serious hindrance to expanding talent within the previously disadvantaged communities. Business concerns were generating substantial profits using facilities acquired cheaply from municipal councils. The Committee regarded the transformation of the CGAs approach to team selection as an important objective as the leadership of federations should lead in transforming sport in line with government policies.

United Cricket Board presentation
Mr R Mali (President) referred to a meeting with a Ministerial Task Team in February 2004 at which the UCB adopted the recommendations of the task team and incorporated them into strategies. Attention was focused on women's cricket, rural areas and club cricket which was stagnating. The President of the Women's Cricket Board had been elevated to the UCB Board and a new club cricket administrators course had been running since June. Money generated by the recent World Cup was ploughed into rural development. Since 1998 much success had been recorded in meeting government directives.

Mr G Majola (CEO) provided a background profile of the UCB for new Committee Members declaring that the UCB served as the custodians of cricket in South Africa. The UCB was formed in 1991 and in 2002 a commercial arm was created, namely, Cricket South Africa. Presently, the UCB was the only sports administration body in the world to receive commercial regulatory approval as a bone-fide corporate. The UCB lists in the top 300 South African companies and the top 300 empowerment companies. The UCB had been recognised by the International Standards Organisation. The UCB comprised 11 affiliates and five new associates and was governed by the General Council. A conference in 1998 highlighted the need to improve the representation of blacks within the management structures and administration.

The Transformation Policy revolved around a Charter adopted in 1998 following a re-appraisal of progress up to that point. The Charter had been provided to the Committee at a previous meeting. The UCB would operate in accordance with principles of good governance, transparency and accountability. Currently, blacks occupied 65% of the General Council, 56% of the Board, 50% of the Executive Directors and 58% of permanent office staff. The role of women within the organisation was receiving attention. Training and coaching would focus on capacity-building, skills-enhancement and an improved training programme. All affiliated clubs would send at least two delegates to a general course to be financed by the UCB. The fourth level of coaching offered had received international accreditation at the highest level possible. The South African version was regarded as the best coaching clinic available A cricket academy had been established in Pretoria and more were earmarked for Boland and KZN.

Transformation targets were monitored on a regular basis and a 50% black players component within all amateur matches was desired. The figure at schools level was approximately 60%. Six new professional franchises had been established with a target of four black players per team and this had been achieved with ease. Approximately 130 black cricketers would compete within the amateur league and the CEO would scrutinise all team lists to ensure compliance with policy. The vision of the UCB centered on the promotion of a national sport and returning to a winning culture improving the results of the national team.

The adopted strategy would promote women's cricket and increase the spectator base. Attracting more black spectators to grounds was a key priority. The new franchise system was designed to improve the quality of competition and render professional cricket self-sustainable and an adequate breeding ground for national players. The new PRO-20 concept was a success with massive match attendances and a popular high action approach.

The intention was to broaden the base of amateur cricket and develop talent by focusing on club cricket. Approximately 8% of gross revenue would be directed at amateur teams and further sponsorship would be investigated. The obtaining of sponsorship was proving problematic due to other priorities. R3.8 million would be provided to each affiliate and the five associates would receive R1.5 million. The six professional franchises would receive R5.3 million per year for the first three years after which self-financing should be attained. The franchises should generate their own profits freeing up the UCB to concentrate on development at the amateur level. The five associates had the potential to become affiliates in due course.

Focus points would include the funding of amateur cricket, quality administration and the reinvigoration of club cricket. 300 clubs would compete in a Premier League and community participation was paramount. The UCB would assist teams to acquire funding from the Lottery and the World Cup Legacy Project would develop multi-purpose centres within previously-disadvantaged areas. South Africa was hosting the Women's World Cup in March 2005 and a girls under-19 team would play against visiting international teams. The national team was under-performing at the moment and the coach and manager had been replaced. The demographics of the national team remained a priority and increased black representation was expected for the next tour. A more adventurous approach from the selectors was encouraged. The UCB anticipated a sound working relationship with the Committee to ensure progress in mutual objectives.

Discussion
Mr Reid asked about the R3.8 million destined for affiliates and what percentage would be utilised for genuine development and whether the buying of players would absorb a portion of the amount. The potential support of the amateur competition by the paying public was questioned and whether Test sides would contain sufficient numbers of black players. The potential negative influence of the PRO-20 series in reducing Test batting ability was raised.

Mr Mtshali alluded to problems experienced in the regions in developing black African players and questioned why only one Ntini had appeared in ten years.

Mr Dikgawci asked whether greater influence could be exerted on those responsible for national team selection to address shortcomings in representation. The establishment of multi-purpose facilities was welcomed but access by the wider community remained an issue. The placement of such facilities in disadvantaged areas was recommended.

Mr Masango pointed out a strong presence of black players and administrators from the Western and Eastern Capes but asked about other regions and what plans could be instituted to attract more spectators.

Mr Majola responded that spending was carefully monitored by the UCB on a continuous basis and proof of utilisation of money was required in accordance with standard auditing procedures. A minimum of four black players was required at the franchise level and the South African A team needed to play more competitive matches to groom future star players for the national side. Each province must provide valid reasons to the UCB as to why designated team selections could not be met. The PRO-20 Series was scheduled for the end of the season to prevent clashes with national requirements such as international tours. Amateur cricket was viewed as a key component of the overall strategy in developing talented players for future professional careers but would remain a developmental league with no commercial influence.

The UCB was aware of the situation in the Durban area regarding use of facilities with the local Indian population dominating at the expense of black Africans. The Committee could assist the UCB in identifying problem areas nationwide and devising appropriate policy responses. Cricket in general would take time to transform and the UCB would continue to report lack of progress. The transformation of affiliate Boards was receiving attention. Disadvantaged schools would receive financial support from the UCB and school children would be encouraged to participate. The Department of Education would be asked to assist in sending sports-qualified teachers to identified schools. Certain top black professional players would be placed at franchise outfits where adequate skills enhancement could occur.

Mr M Jordaan (Manager: Amateur cricket) highlighted certain key developments where top-class facilities had been constructed through partnerships with relevant local authorities, corporate assistance and government intervention. A field with a clubhouse and indoor facility was created in Mamelodi on a reclaimed refuse site and served as a hub for the surrounding communities. Quality coaching programmes would be set up in these venues and the cost of maintenance would be borne by involved partners.

Mr Majola replied that a number of key administrators originated from outside the Cape regions and this tendency would continue.

The Chairperson asserted that the Committee was running out of patience with lack of progress in achieving substantial transformation of national teams. The first five years after 1994 had experienced little progress but momentum had increased in the second five years. The Committee would meet regularly with their counterparts in Provincial and Local Government where the involvement of municipalities in envisaged plans could be discussed. People in KZN were not happy with the current state of affairs and the Committee would monitor this situation. The involvement of the Committee in events around the launching of the new amateur competition was recommended to enhance exposure and public relations. The question of merit was contentious as black players did not enjoy the same opportunities as their white counterparts in development and skills enhancement at the school level. The equalisation of opportunities was imperative.

Mr Mali announced that the newly-constituted African Cricket Association would house its headquarters in South Africa.

The meeting was adjourned.







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