It’s hard to believe that 2010 is moving along so quickly. The coming months will see us focusing very much on preparations for the inaugural Youth Olympics in Singapore and then the Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
The attention that the youth team will receive should give us a good idea of exactly where we are in terms of youth sports development in this country.
There are already so many development programmes for the youth, but we need to see what these programmes produce to make us comfortable in the knowledge that the future of our sport is healthy and in good hands.
What we need to assess is whether the coaches are spending enough time at this level of development in our sport. At our recent Presidents’ Council meeting in Boksburg, the delegates expressed concerns around school sport and the lack of training of coaches to operate in schools.
So it is definitely a matter that will be receiving top priority at the highest level in the months ahead. Therefore, we look forward to seeing the make-up of the final squad that will be going to Singapore. More important will be how they actually perform at the Youth Olympics.
I’ve always said that we are going to be strict in terms of multi-sport teams chosen for international duty. There is simply no room for passengers. The Commonwealth Games will also give us a sense of how strong our competitors are, coming less than two years from the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
The High Performance Team at SASCOC is keeping a close eye on the athletes in the Operation Excellence (OPEX) programme and it is pleasing to see how the athletes have responded. With calls from our broader public for better performances, we have had no choice but to work harder to assist our athletes in their preparations.
My personal wish is to see many of our athletes take off in the second half of 2011 to concentrate on their preparations. It may be a bit late but with the resources at our disposal that may just be about the best we can do.
Our efforts to strengthen our relationship with the horseracing fraternity is designed to raise money to make this possible and to ensure that we are competitive in London. The training camps being planned locally and abroad are geared towards this and ensuring that the athletes know well in advance what is required to perform at the highest level.
The country’s top canoeists have already assembled in Port Edward on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast and there will be more of these camps in the various sports. Top performances will need support not only from SASCOC but from the federations too.
Our Presidents’ Council came out very strongly on the issue of governance and leadership in our federations. The audit we are instituting is aimed at making sure that these matters of leadership and governance aren’t neglected within our federations. Where we can assist to grow a federation we will gladly do so but if we must weed out barely existing federations, we will not hesitate to recommend to SRSA to do so.
Great performances in sport are dependent on solid pillars of leadership, governance, structures, systems and funding. We must take a closer look at all of these if we are going to be world-beaters. Our World Cup-winning national rugby team has shown the way and we must follow their example and perform.
Two exciting programmes are also in the process of being launched. These are the Coach Education and Upgrading Administration Skills programmes that will be driven by SASCOC. We have brought on board two tertiary institutions for the coach education programme and a SETA for the administration skills programme.
Our federations should benefit tremendously from these programmes. We all agreed at our Limpopo and Cape Town council meetings that we should look at the support personnel of our athletes. Poor coaches and administrators are not going to help this country perform against the best in the world.
Looking at the athletics world it’s heartening to see our athletes performing again at the revived Yellow Pages series and I know that our interim administrator Ray Mali is anxious to finalise matters so that he can start preparing for the elections which cannot be later than May when his agreed term of duty comes to an end.
The issue of Sports Councils will reach finality at our April Council meeting when the last outstanding provinces will
receive their SASCOC membership.
In terms of sponsorship, this remains an elusive issue, but the Lotto continues to fund some vital programmes and it is an ongoing process to market our sporting excellence to the corporate world and get them to part with that much-needed financial clout.
And finally there’s the question of the Fifa World Cup. Kick-off in June is approaching like a runaway train and we continue to motivate our federations to go all out in support of our national football team, Bafana Bafana, as they take on the best in the world in our own backyard. The World Cup is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to showcase South Africa … each and every South African must embrace it.