ATC130625: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Sport and Recreation on its Study Tour to Argentina from 29 June- 8 July 2012, dated 4 June 2013

Sports, Arts and Culture




South Africa adopted the National Sport and Recreation Plan (NSRP) during the Department of Sport and Recreation South Africa’s (SRSA) sport indaba in August 2011, which is a guide to move the process of sport transformation and development forward. The resolutions from this indaba provided a framework which resolved how the plan would be provided. The current status of sport in South Africa and the global trends indicate that the success of sport depends entirely upon the systematic development programmes in place, which in this instance are well captured in the National Sport and Recreation Plan. Whilst the country is still going to develop a Physical Education Strategy, a broader school sports programme has been put in place and is amongst one of the priority programmes for the NSRP. South Africa can learn a lot from countries like Argentina , who are in the developmental state and have done so much in implementing Physical Education and School Sport programmes.

The study tour to Argentina was informed by the fact that both South Africa and Argentina shares many similarities as regards progress in sport. Argentina is reckoned as the powerhouse in the South American region, having consistently topped the medal tables of the regional games and is ranked fourth in the Americas , behind countries like USA , Canada and Cuba . Argentina ’s performance in sport like rugby, basketball, volleyball, boxing etc., both professionally and recreationally is commendable. Football, just like in South Africa , is their most popular sport.

Interest in sport for development and peace in Argentina grew when the introduction of sport in schools inspired new thinking about the benefits of sport. In 2000, a nation-wide census identified a significantly low level of sport participation in the general population and, in particular, in the female and youth population. This realisation reinforced the country’s interest in sport and physical activity as a positive force for social development. The Argentinean National Sport Plan was adopted in 2007, and the Portfolio Committee had the opportunity to engage and understand the challenges and success of the recent Argentinean implemented Sport Plan.

The Portfolio Committee oversees the SRSA in its development and implementation of the best practice and model of School Sport. It is upon this background that the decline of young people’s participation over the years necessitated the Department to rethink its approach and programme on School Sport, to respond to the current demands and needs. As a result it was important for the Committee to undertake the study tour to Argentina to better understand how they are succeeding in their implementation of the School Sport programme.

1.1 Delegation

1.1.1. Members of Parliament

The multi-party delegation was led by the Chairperson, Hon R M Mdakane (ANC). Other members comprised: Hon M Dikgacwi (ANC), Hon M Dube (ANC), Hon TE Lishivha (ANC), Hon G Mmusi (ANC), Hon G Tseke (ANC), and Hon W Rabotapi (DA).

1.1.2. Support Staff

The Portfolio Committee was accompanied by Mr L Phori (Committee Secretary) and Mr M Mdekazi (Committee Researcher).

1.2. Terms of Reference and Purpose of the Study Tour

The purpose of the visit was to learn from the National Sport Secretariat of Argentina and the associated institutions on how to implement sport policy and services relating to development of sports at schools supported by the government. The objectives of the study tour were as follows:

· To obtain first-hand experience in interacting with legislators dealing with policy formulation relating to sport in the Congress of the Federal Republic of Argentina;

· To understand the challenges faced and the methods used to implement sport policy and programmes at school level ; and

· To observe and study the parliamentary proceedings and the value added to the delivery of school sport services by the government and its agencies.

1.3 Overview of the Study Tour

The Committee visited the city of Buenos Aires in Argentina and had meetings with the Sport Secretariat, commonly known as the Centro Nacional De Alto Rendimiento Deportivo (CENARD), the Committee on Health and Sport, Sports Committee in the Chamber of Deputies, the Under-Secretary of Education and the Parliamentary Representatives from the Argentine Congress. The Portfolio Committee also met with entities which include amongst others, the Argentine Olympic Committee (AOC), “Friends Club” (Club de Amigos) and the Football Academy for Boca Juniors. The focus of the interaction with these sports bodies or entities related to their mandates, developmental projects and governance structures.

The Committee also visited one of the developmental projects of the CENARD (a state-owned sport development facility), which was a multi-purpose sport centre that housed facilities for sport, recreation, education and training, including a dormitory for “boarders” who came from around the City of Buenos Aires and beyond.

2.1 Welcome and introduction of programme at the South African Embassy

The delegation was welcomed by His Excellency – Ambassador, Mr Tony Leon on 2 July 2012. Mr T Leon gave a brief background of the bilateral relations between South Africa and Argentina . He highlighted strong south-south relations forged with Argentina on areas such as trade & investment, mining, banking, agriculture and sports.

He noted that Argentina was the biggest trading partner of South Africa in Latin America . Argentina remained a strategic partner in South America due to her chairmanship of the MERCUSOR, a very powerful trading bloc in Latin America . He indicated that the governments of Argentina and South Africa signed a bilateral agreement in October 2011 and further signed a protocol of action in the arena of Sport and Recreation.

He informed the Committee that no less than 100 hundred rugby school teams would cross the oceans to play in both South Africa and Argentina in 2012. This situation signified the strong bilateral relation between the two countries in areas of sport and recreation. During the 1800s, towards the end of Anglo-Boer War, approximately 300 Afrikaners migrated and settled in Argentina . Most of these Afrikaner families were known as “de- tribalized ’ Afrikaners living in Argentina . Ironically, this Afrikaner grouping had rejected an offer by the government to return them to South Africa .

2.2 The Composition of the House of Congress

The Argentine National Congress has a bicameral system, composed of the Senate and Chamber of Deputies. The members are well-resourced, and they devote much of their time to expert issues.

2.3 The Oversight Responsibility of the Senate

The role of the Senate is to scrutinise legislation, oversee and investigate the Executive, while the Chamber of Deputies legislate in terms of standard procedures. In the Senate, members raise issues and responses are often rapid, depending on the nature of the business. Usually, questions are raised from the floor, and are predominately from the opposition. There is no requirement to give prior notification to answer supplementary questions. Diversity issues such as health, education and sport are priority in the Argentine Parliament.

2.4 The Role of the Opposition in the Senate

The Leader of the Opposition was given the right to become the Chairperson of the Health and Sports Committee. The Health and Sports Committee liaises with other sports stakeholders outside the Argentine Parliament.

2.5 Presentation on the Argentine Congress & Senate

Mr Fabian Parra , Director of Parliament and Government Programme briefed the delegation on the work of the Health & Sports Committee. The delegation was informed that the Hansard Society is an independent, non-partisan political research and education charity. They work in areas of parliamentary democracy and encourage greater public involvement in politics.

The Senate is a non-partisan body. The Democratic Action is the main opposition in the Senate and serves as a watchdog of congress. It looks at issues of legislative processes and procedure, especially dealing with health, sports, education and culture.

The Democratic Action is of the view that advertisement in sport through alcohol and cigarettes should be banned as they deemed it contradictory and is a threat to health of sports people and sporting values in Argentina . Notwithstanding this view, the issue of advertising in sport remained a fiercely debated matter in the Senate and Chamber of Deputies.

The CENARD and Argentine Olympic Committee were permitted to make oral submissions during the meetings convened by the Committee on Health and Sport. The Public Health and Hospitals were freely accessible to all citizens of Argentina . The Health and Sport Committee focused mainly on Health legislation, mental health issues, and regulations dealing with private health-care companies. The Senate needed to debate the health risks involved in the advertising of harmful substances during the sports events and games by sponsors. However there was no formal relationship between the health professions council and schools specializing in sports in Argentina .

3. Presentation on Physical Education System

Ms Soledad Acuna , Under-Secretary of Education of the City of Buenos Aires briefed the delegation on the Physical Education System. Ms Acuna stated that since 2011, Argentina had a National Directorate of Physical Education, as a branch within the Ministry of Education. She spoke of the budget, and how this led to the decision to offer free physical education to learners and students. Physical Education was seen as a compulsory subject at school, even though it was not an all-week activity, and normally students had about three hours per week set aside for activities, on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The students were assigned marks for their performance in Physical Education (PE), and he reiterated that it was run by professional PE teachers, who were trained for four years at tertiary institutions.

3.1 The Role of the Evita Sports Games

The Evita Games were convened annually in honour of the late wife of the former President, Evita Peron. All primary and high schools were taking part in these games. The communities and families were part of the games to introduce sports to newcomers and no competitive sport was encouraged at that level. The Evita Games were introduced during 2000 as part of promoting healthy lifestyles and forging strong family relations through sport as a tool for social cohesion. The Evita Games were promoting values of teamwork, respect and solidarity through social sport. The children were encouraged to participate without any expectation of good performance. Therefore participation was purely for social cohesion as opposed to competitive sport.

The children aged from 12-18 year-old participated in the Evita Games. However 60 year-olds as well as physically handicapped were given opportunities to participate in these national games. The 24 Provinces around Argentina would participate annually during the games. The games were promoting individual as well as team sport. An indigenous sport called “frog game” was included in the programme. These games comprised of different sporting codes such as volleyball, basketball, athletics, cycling and gymnastics. Since 2003-2011, about 1, 2 million people participated in the Evita Games. The cultural and arts aspect of Argentinine life constituted a major part of the games. Dancing, music, painting and other forms of art were part of the Evita Games. The budget for this Evita Games came from the national fiscus and government contributed about $10 Million US Dollars towards the success of these games annually.

Clubs were widely used in Argentina but not all children had the chance to register at private clubs, so the emphasis was rather on schools to develop their physical abilities. Sometimes recruiters would visit the high schools and view children in their classes.

3.2 Presentation on Strategic Plan 2008-2012

The National Secretariat of Sport within the Social Development branch of government presented the Strategic Plan. A new body had also been created in 2010 – Centro Nacional De Alto Rendimiento Deportivo (CENARD) – to support high level performance in Sport. This was a non-profit, non-state organization, and was run together by the National Olympic Committee and the Argentina Secretariat for Sport. This Agency had its own building and own staff. The budget was derived from 1% of monthly prepaid subscriptions on mobile phones. He explained that Argentina , like many other places, had more mobile phones than inhabitants, with about 30 million handsets. Another 1% was added to the subscription charges, which comprised the budget of US$35 million for the international high level development. CENARD had a President, elected on a four-year cycle, and the current President of CENARD was also the President of the National Olympic Committee, whose term would run to December.

3.3 Presentation on the Strategic Plan of National Sport Secretariat

Mr Raul Araya, Clerk of the Overseas Office, National Sport Secretariat (commonly known as the CENARD) briefed the delegation on the strategic plan and implementation of the CENARD programmes for delivery of sports services. He touched on the following focal point s:

· Argentina had a National Directorate of Physical Education, as a branch within the Ministry of Education.

· The Budget made it possible to offer free activities.

· Physical Education was seen as a compulsory subject at school, even though it was not an all-week activity.

· Students had about three hours per week set aside for activities, on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

· The students were assigned marks for their performance in Physical Education (PE).

· PE was run by professional PE teachers, who were trained for four years at tertiary level.

· Clubs were widely used in Argentina but not all children had the chance to register at private clubs, so the emphasis was rather on schools to develop their physical abilities.

· Sometimes recruiters would visit the high schools and view children in their classes, with a view to giving them future opportunities.

The main aim of the CENARD was to cooperate in the implementation and development of policies for high level and sporting development. Most of this was done by financing activities only through national sport federations.  Money grants were also provided for sportsmen and coaches to help with activities.  The budget was used for the hiring and payment of specialists in sport including the national coaches of the national federations. The focus would be on training those federations who could not get private sponsorship elsewhere.

Mr. Araya noted that in South Africa , as well as many other countries, soccer and rugby received most of the sponsorship, and pointed out that there were many other sports that were overlooked, and who might not even be trying to find sponsorship. The budget was also spent on participation in international and national competitions such Pan-American games and South-American games. Each national federation had identified their best sportsmen and sportswomen and these people were provided with medical insurance and medical assistance, as were the coaches. The CENARD had an internal body, the General Assembly, which had to approve the annual plans. There was also a Fiscal Committee and Disciplinary Committee. The structure was quite simple, and comprised of a board of directors from the National Secretariat for Sport and the Argentine Olympic Committee.

Mr. Araya indicated that the National Secretariat had the chance to focus on the most relevant issues, which was providing equal opportunities for all citizens in sport activities. Prior to the formation of this Agency, there had been pressure from the media and sports federations to grant money for international competitions, but there were competing priorities also of matters such as healthcare. The formation of the new Agency meant that the National Secretariat for Sport had a better budget, could impose and develop new programmes for sport as well as grant opportunities to different focus groups, such as the poor, the disabled and youth leagues. Around 1 000 fourth-year students, who were aged 21 to 22, provided activities to the different focus groups.

This was supported by the institutes of sports, local and provincial government, which provided around 60 000 people with the chance to be involved in sport activities. This was a major pilot project and he emphasized that it had a large budget. The project demanded grounds and better facilities, although he mentioned that the weather was similar to South Africa , so outdoor activities could still take place in winter. Institutes would be provided with equipment and nets. After this programme, players moved to the National Evita Games, and joint efforts at national, provincial and local level resulted in much better utilization of budgets.

4.1 Observations on the School Sports System

The Committee was informed that the Ministry of Education in Argentina was only created in 2011 and comprised of pre-school, primary and high school levels. It was noted that socio-economic conditions could determine the performance of children in both school and sports activities. Therefore the Argentine government deemed it necessary to provide free education, which included physical education. However the emphasis remained mainly on mass participation and not competition in sporting activities. This education model was based on instilling a good value-system in the participating children. There were approximately twenty-five programmes. The Committee delegation further observed that early childhood development supported by systematic and professional physical education resulted in world class athletes from Argentina .

4.2 Site Inspection at the National Sports Secretariat (CENARD)

The Committee learnt that the National Sport Secretariat had excellent facilities such a gym, swimming pool, stadium, astroturf , hockey field and accommodation for the boarders at the CENARD. The children were from mainly the city of Buenos Aires but others came from far remote rural areas of Argentina . The delegation was satisfied with the infrastructure at this specialised facility for sports development.

The Sports House was constructed as a one-sport shop meant to provide office space for all sporting codes in the Buenos Aires region. The Sports House was constructed at the cost of about R157 million from the coffers of the provincial government of Buenos Aires . In addition, this facility also boasted a combination of courts with tennis, netball, hockey, football and swimming pools

5.1 Club De Amigos, “Friends of Club”, Buenos Aires

This state-of–the-art facility situated in Buenos Aires had a multi-purpose sports centre as well as a “Sports Club”. The Club De Amigos had hockey fields, netball courts, tennis courts, football fields, a swimming pool, a ballet studio, a table tennis board and gymnasium. This sports centre had been upgraded with funding to the tune of R100 million coming from the government budget through the CENARD. Children from the ages of 3 to 7 years-old could participate in sport and recreational activities without any emphasis on competitive sport. This facility had change rooms, offices and kitchen facilities for functions and sport conferences.

The delegation of the Committee was allowed to observe and watch a school sport class taking place with learners and parents.

5.2 Football Academy for Boca Juniors FC

This state-of-the-art facility situated in La Boca had a multi-purpose centre as well as a “ Football Academy ”. The Football Academy had a building that catered for indoor games such as chess, in-door soccer, ballet, karate, table tennis and a gymnasium. The clubs around the facility were able to share the facility with development clubs of the community in La Boca. Boca Juniors were recruiting young footballers in Argentina and beyond. The academy had educational facilities as well as boarding for aspirant footballers whose homes were in the outskirts of the city of Buenos Aires . The stadium of the Boca Juniors had seats and a suite named after the most celebrated footballer from Argentina , Diego Maradona . The rivalry between the Boca Junior club and Riviera La Plate club were the most interesting football encounters in Argentina . Boca Junior FC and River Plate commanded massive support amongst football fans in Argentina .

5.3 Clarity Seeking Questions and Comments

The delegation observed that the National Sport Secretariat was focusing more on the city of Buenos Aires , as opposed to the entire Republic of Argentina . The Undersecretary explained that although the Secretariat was situated in the city, it served all learners from other cities and provinces in Argentina . The delegation also felt that a compulsory physical education requirement in South Africa could contribute to an increase in the supply of physical educators, especially at departments like Basic Education which demanded specialised physical training of learners at schools and universities. A further observation was made that although South Africa does not use highly sophisticated physical education trainers, it is highly likely that should a similar system be introduced in our country, it would benefit many athletes and sports federations.

5.4 Presentation on the Infrastructure and Sport

Mr Francisco Irarrazabal , Director of Infrastructure and Sports Activities briefed the delegation on the work of the Sports Infrastructure Centre located at the Golf Club. There was an ambitious plan called the 2020 City Vision which aimed at making the city of Buenos Aires motor-vehicle free by 2020. The intention was to ensure that residents of the city don’t use cars but instead would walk, run and dance as a form of recreation and creating healthy lifestyles. People were encouraged to use open public spaces as a means of achieving fitness and health through leisure. It was noted that there were strong relations between the state, banks and other private sector corporations with the view of achieving greater sport development.

There were 160 sports clubs in and around the city of Buenos Aires and such clubs were affiliated to the national sports federations. The Committee delegation was informed that the City of Buenos Aires was also bidding to host the World Youth Games in 2019.


The Portfolio Committee on Sport and Recreation requests that the Minister of Sport and Recreation ensures that the following recommendations are considered, and where possible, implemented within one month of the adoption of this report by the House:

6.1 Argentine-SA bilateral Partnership : The existing cooperation between the two countries be strengthened in the areas of Sport for Development (SFD). Within the framework of Development Cooperation, development through sport should be one of the focal subjects or dialogue areas of negotiations between the two governments, whereby South Africa could learn from Argentina on the best practice of implementing the National Sport and Recreation Plan. It was evident from the visit that Argentina had created a very strong base to support federations and implementing programmes of sport and recreational for the purposes of development other than just competition.

6.2 School Sport: The strength of a successful sport system relies strongly on the strength of its foundation. It was evident from the visit that, the Department of Sport and Recreation needs to play a critical role in rolling out school sport programmes. It will be critical to ensure that all role players like the Department of Education, Teachers Unions, School Governing Bodies, Sports Federations etc are part of the process of shaping up our school sport system.

6.3 Physical Education: The compulsory inclusion of Physical Education as a separate curriculum should be explored further with other stakeholders involved. Physical Education is a curriculum based subject which is taught by qualified teachers/specialists whilst school sport is an extra-curricular activity which supports the student learning environment. Early childhood development can help create a well balanced child with coordination, technical and tactical ability in movement.

6.4 The Department should consider promoting the cooperation between the two countries, amongst the local institutions who may want to share their knowledge and expertise within the areas of sport science, management, mass sport and school sport initiatives.


The delegation, having deliberated and exchanged views with its counterparts, considered the issue of compulsory physical education as the best route to follow for South Africa, since it would help in a number of areas of athletic development, transformation and social cohesion in our society through systematic sports programmes.

The committee would further explore the possibility of follow-up visits to countries which would be chosen during appropriate times, hoping that by that time South Africa would have implemented a school sports league. Since physical education is not compulsory in South Africa , it would be wise to explore the possibility of utilising Wednesdays and campaigns like “football Fridays” to reignite passion for sport in schools.

Schools, universities and FET Colleges could be used for implementing a systematic school sport philosophy as a way of introducing physical education in our schools. Bigger sports federations and clubs could be approached, in order to get their support through interventionist programmes of school sports academies, high performance centres and specialized sports schools.

Report to be considered.


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