The Sports Recreational Minister Fikile Mbalula has threatened to not fund South African sports if certain issues or conditions were not adhered to. This involves the transformation of black sportsmen and sportswomen in South Africa. He wants to see 60% black representation in teams and warned of harsh punishment if there was any form of resistance to these measures. “If any resistance was met, government could withdraw funding to bodies that fail to comply, withdraw national colours to federations holding back, rule that utilizing bidding and hosting regulations to be illegal, de-register anybody which fails to transform and bar sponsorship to anyone hostile to transformation.” Minister of Sports Fikile Mbalula said.
I do not agree with what the minister is saying as this will sacrifice quality for quantity, as there will be players in national and provisional teams, just to fill up the numbers and not because of the quality they bring to the teams. This therefore will decrease the quality of sports in South Africa, and will make our sports go backwards instead of developing and going forward.
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with developing players, no matter what their race is, but the way this is implemented by the minister is incorrect and has caused a national wide criticism of the minister. Minister Mbalula is supposed to promote and develop sport and now he threatens to penalize our sports teams.
Former South African test Captain Clive Rice had this to say about Minister Mbalula’s new quota plan. “It seems like Mbalula does not understand how failure on the playing field works. These politicians have no clue about what happens on the playing field. How many promising black players’ careers have been ruined by this obsession with quotas? It’s not about the numbers in a team, but the number of quality players. By only picking black players to get the numbers right, you sacrifice quality and it forces those players to play at a level they’re not ready for yet. You get exposed so easily if you’re not good enough for a certain level. “It ruins a player and then the minister must take responsibility for it. Nobody likes being pushed too early and then realize you are out of your depth, but let him continue. He’ll destroy the careers of a lot of black sportsmen,” Clive Rice.
This may be harsh words by the former cricket captain, but it is very true. Sportsmen and sportswomen should be chosen on merit and not because of what their skin colour is. All players should warrant their spot in the national and provisional sides. No player wants to be picked because of their skin colour, but because of their skill and talent in their sport code that they specialize in. What the Minister of Sports Mr. Fikile Mbalula should do is ensure that the disadvantaged aspiring sportsmen and women get the founding and opportunity to perform in the sports their specialize in, in boosting the grassroots projects in terms of money so that they can have the same opportunities’ as the privileged players have.
There should be no political influence in sports, all players should be chosen on merit and the skills they possess and have to offer in their respective sports codes. By this it will improve the sports in South Africa going forward and enable us to compete at higher levels with other countries and hopefully be the best in the world in years to come, not just in Cricket and Rugby but also in other sports, such as athletics, swimming and soccer.
The quota system has its positives as it gives an opportunity to players of colour to have an opportunity to play sports provisionally and nationally and it promotes more black players to showcase their talent, but the manner in which it is set out though is totally incorrect and sets out a negative message to the public and to the players. As a player of colour in South Africa today, your selection will always cause a national debate because of the quota system which has been put in practice by the government.
We saw this in the recently concluded T20 Champions League Cricket tournament which was hosted in India. The Cape Cobras and the Nashua Dolphins had at least two ethnic black players in their teams. Not saying that they do not belong there, but the system that has been put by the government and the exact two players from both side, will always cause a debate that the players were chosen according to their skin colour and not because of their ability.
As a player of colour in South Africa, you will always have a doubt about your selection in the provincial and national teams and will also doubt your ability, as it will be like you are chosen to fill up e certain number instead of being selected on your ability and what you can bring to the team. This system will kill our sports and players alike. Players want to be chosen on merit and not by the colour of their skin. The government and the respectful sports boards should have a look into the quota system, and scrap the idea, as it will make our sports go backwards and will kill the bright future we have. The nation should stand together and not be divided, especially by the quota system. We should fight this, and have teams of quality and ability. We have a very large pool of talented players in our sports, let us develop them and utilize them. Let the players be chosen on merit and not the skin of their colour.
By: Luzuko Sampo