SA Schools Athletics to align selection criteria with Athletics SA
SA Schools Athletics has withdrawn its memos from last month outlining quotas to transform participation in primary and high schools.
SA Schools Athletics general secretary Peppi Olevano said in a letter on Tuesday they were withdrawing their memos from February 5 and 25.
“SA Schools Athletics will in future align its selection criteria with the federation (Athletics South Africa).”
This comes after AfriForum Youth contacted the body after it received a letter stating the following must be implemented to transform school athletics to “reflect the demographics” of SA:
- At least 40% [participation] for all teams on all levels of competition, “with specific emphasis to girl athletes”;
- One athlete per event and age group must be from a previously disadvantaged community;
- The high school athletics quota system allows three athletes per event on merit. “At least one athlete per event must be from the previous disadvantaged community which can be the fourth athlete in the event (no qualifying standard needed for this athlete).”; and
- The primary schools’ athletics quota system allows two athletes per event on merit. “At least one athlete per event must be from the previous disadvantaged community which can be the third athlete in the event (no qualifying standard needed for this athlete).”
Democratic Alliance MP Darren Bergman commented: "While the DA believes completely in the diversity of our country and its sports, this top-down approach at enforcing change has a number of negative consequences. These include reducing the level of competition at these events, pushing learners away from the sport if they cannot be chosen on merit and undermining the interest and support of sporting events."
He added: "We need to look at a bottom-up approach where the focus is on addressing resources, training, opportunity and facilities rather than a draconian top-down approach."
- Trade union Solidarity is asking the Johannesburg labour court on Wednesday to set aside the sport and recreation ministry’s transformation charter.
It believes, if successful, it would mean an end to the politicising of sport and that the focus would be on developing and using the talents of all athletes and players.
This application is opposed by the minister of sport, the South African Rugby Union, Cricket South Africa, Athletics South Africa and Netball South Africa.
Solidarity said the application was part of the union and its sister organisation AfriForum’s joint campaign against applying quotas in sport.
The organisations said that in the run-up to the case, Solidarity and AfriForum, by means of the Promotion of Access to Information Act, managed to obtain the specific quota percentages for each of the various sports in May 2017.
This information revealed that the intention of sports authorities went way beyond team selection. The organisations said the quotas even involved the composition according to race of coaches, board and committee members, and support staff.