Mbalula is right: get them young and transform sport
The Times Editorial: Whatever his problems might be in the corridors of ANC power, Fikile Mbalula continues to impress as the minister of sport. Yesterday's address to business people was another example of this.
Mbalula did not hesitate to use strong words in condemning the apparent corruption at Cricket SA, the obvious incompetence at Athletics SA during Leonard Chuene's reign and an inability to read rules at the SA Football Association.
"It can't inspire us to invest our money in a business that does not inspire us," he said in a specific reference to Safa, whose employees embarrassed the nation by failing to understand the qualifying rules of the Nations Cup and made fools of our Bafana heroes, who danced joyously on a Nelspruit touchline in the mistaken belief that they were headed to the tournament currently on the go in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.
The sentiment applies equally to cricket, athletics, now even powerboating and any other national sports body that thinks it can escape public scrutiny.
Mbalula did not opt for euphemism in addressing the most vexing issue in our sport: transformation. For South African sport to become genuinely representative and shed the baggage of an odious past, we all need to work harder at it - at club level, provincial level, national level, in the media and especially at schools.
The thrust of Mbalula's speech was a plea to business to help with school sport. Already he has urged the National Lotteries Board to get involved. A figure of R200-million has been mentioned, which might be just a drop in the ocean of our benighted schools system.
But at least Mbalula is on the right track: get them while they are young. If sports such as cricket and rugby can convince young players that they are not "token" - as one 16-year-old believed, according to www.timeslive.com - we will be almost there.