This is an article from the beginning of last year. My feelings on the matter have not changed and I thought I’d put it up again seeing as transformation targets are being missed. I still believe the problem is at the grassroots level and that needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency!
A topic in South Africa that seems to cause much debate. For many people in South Africa, there’s nothing better to do on a Saturday afternoon than to watch our beloved hero’s take to the field in our famous green and gold to do battle with our rivals on the sports field. Rugby, football (soccer), cricket, netball, hockey you name it we play it and in most sporting codes we are extremely competitive and in some, we even feature in the top ten in the world. The question at hand though is transformation helping or hindering or national teams?
I see the transformation a positive step in the right direction and that direction is inclusion! Inclusion of everyone regardless of race or religion. Where the transformation system falls for me is quotas and the quota system as a whole. I believe our government is after a quick fix solution to a problem that’s ingrained into our country over decades of oppression and unfair treatment towards people that are not white and therein lays our problem.
As someone whose played most of our major sporting codes from a young age the problem for me is not as black and white as people think, the problem is at the grassroots level, including every child is a difficult task but I don’t think enough emphasis is being put on our school system wherein many schools around the country we see a vast number of different children from different backgrounds. If we concentrated on the schools and creating a culture at a grassroots level that everyone will be included regardless of race or religion I believe we will be well on our way to solving the problem at the national level.
As a former cricket coach to children from the ages of 5 to 15, I speak from experience when I say that when the coaches care about what they are doing the children benefit the most because as a coach you have the chance to shape a young child’s mind and instil values in them that they will carry forward with them for the rest of their lives and this is why coaches need to be taught not only the fundamentals of the sporting code they are coaching but the fundamentals of being a human being as well. Showing children how to share a field, how to be fair to one and other and how to come together can only improve both the coaches’ sense of satisfaction in his/ her job and the way that those children will see the world.
Now I know there are a lot of obstacles facing such an enormous as transformation and one of the biggest problems I see in South Africa is the poverty line and divide the good coaches are at the best schools in the country while the rest of the schools must choose from unqualified teachers and parents and this is the issue I would most like to see addressed by our government. To provide coaches with the tools they need to mould young minds and effectively eradicate transformation as a topic for conversation and I know my solution will take in all likelihood two or three generations to fix but can you imagine watching a South African team running out onto the field one day truly free of the quota system and knowing that every single player on that field is supposed to be there through sure skill and determination to play at the highest level for his/her country.