Swimming South Africa: briefing

Sports, Arts and Culture

05 November 2004
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Meeting report

SPORTS AND RECREATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

SPORTS AND RECREATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
5 November 2004
SWIMMING SOUTH AFRICA: BRIEFING

Chairperson: Mr B Komphela (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Swimming South Africa PowerPoint Presentation
Swimming South Africa Business Plan
Swimming South Africa Transformation Document

SUMMARY
Swimming South Africa made a progress report on transformation in the organisation and on how they had improved the quality of swimming in the country. Focus areas included teaching youth in disadvantaged areas. The Committee expressed dissatisfaction at the achievements of Swimming South Africa, and stated that more needed to be done, especially in the rural areas.

MINUTES
The Committee adopted their report on oversight visits to Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Gauteng without further discussion.

The Chairperson then reported that although Swimming South Africa had delayed in responding to three letters from the Committee, he had accepted their letter of apology, and welcomed their visit.

Swimming South Africa briefing
Mr Naidoo, SSA President, stated that swimming had a four-year leadership cycle, and they tried to ensure that presidents served no more than two terms in office. This was done to encourage training in leadership. The executives of the organisation were all volunteers. The national executive had changed significantly from 1999 when there were only two black executives. Presently, there were five black people and two women.

He stated that swimming was still seen as a 'white sport' and that created challenges in terms of transformation. However, Swimming South Africa had made significant progress over the last four years in this regard. The vision of Swimming South Africa was to make every child a swimmer, by creating growth and awareness in communities to make swimming a mass-based sport.

The fact that the Olympic team was an all white team meant that there was still much to be done. The challenges included that the needed facilities were specialised, and building and heating swimming pools was expensive. Swimming had changed from a summer sport to an all-year sport internationally.

Swimming facilities existed but the challenge was maintaining and managing them. There were also the challenges of the school programmes, as well as talent identification and proper utilisation. There were also programs in rural areas to turn dams into swimming pools.

Youth had been selected by municipalities and trained to run swimming programmes, which also addressed youth unemployment. Swimming as a competitive sport should not be seen in isolation, but as a means to job creation. There had been an increase in the number of black competitors around the country. For example in the level three competition, the tally for Black athletes went up from 20 in 2003 to 32 in 2004. Swimming clubs had been established in various townships, and basic needs identified to enable competition.

Discussion
Mr D Dikgacwi (ANC) asked for a breakdown of the executive members, including the number of black Africans. He also wanted to know where the 25 swimming clubs were located. He suggested Members visit some of those clubs during the Parliament recess. He wanted to know the municipalities that were partners with Swimming South Africa, and the nature of their partnership. He further asked about the structure of the competition programmes, and about the schools that were beneficiaries of programmes.

Mr S Masango (DA) was concerned about the rural areas. He asked if there were any black coaches in the townships or rural areas that could be used. He further wanted to know about the success rate of black competitors, and if their medals were for local or provincial competitions. He requested that the presenter give a specific number of the black population that would make up the 20% to be trained for 2008.

Mr T Louw (ANC) expressed his frustration. How was it possible that there were so many black swimmers, and not one made it to the Olympics? Unless the Committee specifically requested the organisation to have a quota of black swimmers in the Olympics, it seemed nothing would be done about the issue.

Mr E Mtshali (ANC) asked about the municipalities and townships, in which swimming was being promoted. He requested the names of the competitions in which township swimmers competed.

Mr Naidoo stated that he was also not satisfied with the success of the transformation process. Resources were a key issue and that South Africa could not compare itself to other countries that were spending billions to get swimmers to the Olympic Games. He would rather the country spent money improving the sport and its many swimmers, instead of spending millions just to get a few to the Olympics.

He stated that club selections focussed on increasing swimming in the African townships and ensuring capacity to maintain swimming programmes. More than 80% of the swimmers selected came from African townships.

In Gauteng, the Provincial government had sponsored programmes so there were many programmes in that province. In other provinces, programmes were sponsored by Sporting and Recreation South Africa and the Lottery.

The organisation had been trying very hard to identify facilities in rural areas, but almost none existed. This presented the major challenge of building new facilities with limited resources. The organisation had already set a quota according to government regulation. With the junior team, a quota had already been set of a minimum of 30% black swimmers. In terms of the 80 athletes mentioned, 27 of them were black swimmers who came from different regions at different levels.

The executive 'non-white' racial composition was one Indian person, one black Africans and three coloured people. The management of all the touring teams mostly had black managers. The club list would be made available shortly, as well as details on partnership with the municipalities. Partnerships with the municipalities depended on the latters' bureaucracies and their level of proactivity. More than R300 000 had been invested into townships in partnerships with municipalities.

The three age group competitions that were all club -based. There was also a short-course competition at the highest club level, and Senior A and B competitions at provincial level. Most of these competitions moved around the country and the organisation could provide Members with schedules and more details if necessary. There was a plan to draft a four-year schedule for these competitions.

Swimming facilities had been renovated in Soweto, Cape Town, Eldorado Park and at the University of Western Cape. There had been 15 facilities identified in the Business Plan, split across provinces and also urban and rural areas. However, most of them were situated in urban areas because the Lottery only provided money for renovation instead of building new facilities.

Mr Naidoo further stated that the organisation had identified particular black swimmers for development in new programmes, but the municipalities also identified athletes. In all of the programmes, there was a focus on unemployed youths living around swimming facilities. The list of schools with programmes could be made available at a later time. Details such as the names and ages of the youth training for the 2008 Olympic Games, could be made available as well.

Mr T Louw wanted to know what the presenter meant about some black swimmers being 'good for' gold medals and who was responsible for the selection of athletes for international competitions. He also asked about the relationship between Swimming South Africa and Athletics South Africa.

The presenter stated that gold medals had been won by youth in the provincial as well as the African competitions. The relationship between Swimming South Africa and Athletics South Africa was cordial and there was discussion between them on a regular basis. In terms of the criteria for the selection of teams, the Commonwealth set the merit-based criteria. There was a huge difference between the stipulations and the transformation that need to be addressed.

The Chairperson stated that most of the sporting codes took actions contrary to transformation, and this was frustrating the Committee. He wanted to know if the objectives of Swimming South Africa were in line with the national objectives stated by the State President.

The presenter stated that swimming was a huge part of societal lifestyle development. It was also concerned with teaching unemployed youth and awarding them the qualifications to teach. This had led to these youth acquiring jobs and thereby reducing unemployment. The movement of events from one province to another helped improve local economies and create jobs.

The Chairperson stated that it was important to do everything possible to reach rural areas. This was a challenge for both the politicians and the organisation. They needed to be in constant communication with each other to overcome this challenge.

The meeting was adjourned.

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