Acceleration of transformation and revival of school sport among new Sport Minister's top priorities

25 April 2017 - 14:52 By Mahlatse Mphahlele
Sports Minister Thulas Nxesi with Springboks player Trevor Nyakane during the Launch of SuperSport Rugby Challenge at Bill Jardine Stadium on April 10, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Sports Minister Thulas Nxesi with Springboks player Trevor Nyakane during the Launch of SuperSport Rugby Challenge at Bill Jardine Stadium on April 10, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

Newly appointed Sports Minister Thembelani "Thulas" Nxesi has named the acceleration of transformation and revival of school sport among his top priorities.

Nxesi‚ who replaced Fikile Mbalula at the department of sport after President Jacob Zuma's recent cabinet reshuffle‚ said transformation is going to be a central part of his new role.

“Transformation is very central‚ there is an Eminent Persons Group (EPG) report that we are waiting for and we will discuss it with the relevant stakeholders‚" he said.

"I am not going to throw away anything that is there but I am going to build on what all my predecessors started from the late Steve Tshwete to Fikile Mbalula.

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“The EPG will be releasing its Annual Audit on Transformation in Sport‚ this has become a highly credible and well-researched document and clearly we will have to engage on its findings.

"It is important that we do this kind of thorough research before rushing to take action. I want to study the research and I want to talk to people before I start making any pronouncements on transformation.”

Nxesi said school sport and youth development are other areas that will receive his urgent attention as they will help to widen the pool of talent from which national teams are selected.

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“Talking to people since I arrived at the department has opened my eyes to a looming crisis of sustainability for sports system as a whole if we do not address the challenges in school sport.

"Based on their research‚ the EPG describes school sport as the ‘Achilles Heel’ of the whole sport system including the high performance sport codes.

"They argue that the present strategy of some sports codes of effectively relying on a handful of ex Model-C and private schools as their pipeline for identifying talent is not sustainable.

"And demographic projections indicate that‚ both in absolute numbers and in percentage terms‚ the strategy will become unsustainable in the medium to long run‚” he elaborated.

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Having been in the new job for less than a month‚ Nxesi has hit the ground running and he is finding his feet at his new surroundings.

“I am done with the internal consultations such as meeting the Director General Alec Moemi‚ the management and talking to staff members about the programmes.

"I am now starting to understand where sport is going and I am still going to go to the provinces and study a lot of documents like the National Development Plan (NDP) to understand what it says about sport.

“We are having a meeting with South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) on Tuesday to have in-depth discussions and I am starting a programme or schedule to meet all the sporting codes.”

 - TMG Digital/TMG Sport

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