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In the President’s Corner — Gideon Sam

After our successful performance at the Commonwealth Games in India I went straight to Acapulco in Mexico for the Association of National Olympic Committees congress where I made an input on the “Autonomy of Sport ” which was well received.

Some countries are battling with their governments on what they can do and what they cannot do.

My departure point was that in a democratic dispensation you must allow structures of civil society to operate, but they cannot be lords unto themselves.  I was well supported in this view by ex Minister Stofile who spoke on Sport and the Environment. Essentially we were saying good governance in sport will allow government to let us do what we must do.

On my return I attended the African chapter of the IOC on sport and the environment in Nairobi, Kenya.┬á I moderated a session after doing the introduction to the two-day session.┬á The discussions centred on Africa’s contribution to the debates about the green economy.┬á In the end we split the continent in three parts, each with a coordinator.┬á I was elected to do southern Africa.┬á What this means is that I must coordinate the efforts of all the countries in the south and compile what is happening.

Next year around March/April we will gather in Qatar to report on all our efforts. Pretty exciting, but a necessary part of the work that we must do in sport to ensure we campaign to preserve the earth.

On my return I took off to East London to have discussions around boxing and how we can ensure that we get sufficient buy-in from all involved for our 2011 programme.  People are keen and I am happy that we will be able to satisfy the requirements to qualify enough boxers for the 2012 Olympics in London.

The university structure (USSA) met in Stellenbosch and I can report here that the universities are 100% committed to make SA sport work.  Our federations must continue to engage the universities because they now know what we is expected from them.  A research report on the capacities of all our universities was tabled and the report is well worth reading, in fact I would say compulsory reading for our federations.  The university of Johannesburg also tabled an interim report on the work they have been commissioned on Talent Identification for South Africa.

The most exciting report from USSA was the discussions on SA’s own “NCAA”┬á The varsity cup will now become varsity cups and discussions are underway as to which sport should form part of the varsity cups system.

Then, the most exciting thing for me was to meet the new Sports Minister, Fikile Mbalula for a courtesy call. CEO Tubby Reddy and I met with him in his Cape Town offices and we came back very excited about what is going to happen. We gave him a snapshot of the activities of SASCOC and he promised to have a follow up meeting with us to have an in depth discussion with him so that we can hear his priority areas.

We cannot wait for this meeting after putting our frustration across to him on: school sport; funding; transformation issues and the challenges that our federations face on a number of issues, for instance the absence in some federations of a professional culture and the complete dependency on volunteers. The Minister listened attentively to our briefing and I am convinced we are going to have a sympathetic ear whenever we need it.

The serious planning for 2011 will kick in amidst all the other activities that are already taking place at Sascoc.  This week sees us hosting the Heroes Against Aids Walk dinner and then the Coaches Conference will be held from Friday to Sunday in Johannesburg.