Athletics SA misses 2017/2018 transformation target

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Athletics is the only one of the five major sporting codes in the country that has not reached its transformation target for 2017/2018 according to the findings of the latest Eminent Persons Group.

The report was released in Pretoria earlier on Tuesday and according to Sports Minister, Tokozile Xasa, Athletics South Africa will be asked to come and explain itself and how it plans to address the matter.

The four major codes that reached their targets are soccer, netball, cricket and rugby, but the Department and the EPG were confident that all federations would be a representation of the country’s demographics, sooner rather than later.

In 2011, only the five major federations were piloted for the transformation process. Those were soccer, netball, cricket, athletics and rugby.

The report commends the strides they have made, but Athletics South Africa and some other federations have some explaining to do.

EPG Secretariat, Dr Willie Basson, says that athletics has experienced governance problems.

“Athletics had some problems for some years now from governance point of view. They are battling to deal with the quality of data sheet. They missed the target for two years now. The other four big sporting codes have achieved their targets two years running.”

Although federations set their own targets, some still fail to meet them. Ten of the 19 federations in South Africa fall in that category and they will soon feel the pinch from government.

Minister Xasa says that she will exercise fairness in dealing with the matter.

“It cannot be that we come with a report every year, it goes back and the following year it comes back; the very same thing. There are measures that are at the disposal of the minister, but for fairness, we want to create space because we are keen to see that athletics are on its toes.”

Director General of the Sports Ministry, Alex Moemi says that various executives are beginning to question transformation.

“Executives across major groups are beginning to ask difficult questions about transformation. We encourage them to do so. That will be linked to sponsorship. If you do not transform and the EPG do not report favourably about you, chances of you signing sponsors are going to be slimmer.”

Non-functional school sport, especially in rural and previously disadvantaged areas, also has a negative impact on demographic representation at national level.

The issue of school-sport has been highlighted as a major concern and a threat to the development of sports in the country. And federations that set lower targets have been warned as the ministry will soon fast-track the transformation process.

Infighting, divisions and a reluctance to change are also hindering the process.