National Assembly Debate, Tuesday May 29, 2001
I would like to commend the minister on the exemplary way in, which he is leading his department. He is a sincere humble person who mixes equally well with presidents and paupers and seems to be everywhere all the time. You will often find him at a portfolio committee meeting in the morning in Cape Town, at a minister's briefing in the afternoon in Pretoria, and in Durban at a soccer match in the evening. I suspect that he has been cloned, and I want to call on the Mail and Guardian to investigate the matter. Minister Balfour is a great ambassador for parliament, cabinet and South Africa, and is a good example of how rotten political parties can sometimes produce fine people. He has been accused of interference in sport at times, but one has to admit that his intervention has more often that not led to an improvement in a particular situation.
The IFP will be supporting the budget on sport and recreation.
We do not necessarily believe that government is investing enough in sport, but sees this budget as a step forward, especially the intention of investing much more money in sport over the next three years. We are very pleased about the R40 million to be spent on the improvement of existing facilities, and building of new multi-purpose ones. Our visit to Cuba early this year was quite an eye opener as far as sporting facilities are concerned.
Over there they have sport facilities on virtually every street corner. They are all very basic, nothing fancy, no high tech equipment. Yet they are one of the best sporting nations of the world. South Africans seem to believe that in order to become a successful sporting nation, we need fancy equipment and high tech facilities. The Cuban experience tells us that this is not true. What our people do need more of, is commitment and pride in their country, which with all due respect, is sadly lacking.
Many of our top sports men and women feel very little for their country, it is simply about money. They find it so easy to not avail themselves for national teams, as their overseas clubs pay them so much more. During a visit to the Northern Cape last year, we were told by a club that a certain top sportsman was invited there to spend a week-end coaching youngsters, and be honoured by the local people. The club was told by the sportsmanís agent that he would do it for R50 thousand plus expenses paid.
Is this not a sad state of affairs? Surely we are not against sports people being paid well for what they do, but donít they have a moral obligation to put a little back into society who has been supporting them all the way? In San Nicholas a small town outside Havana, we went to a small very basic wrestling gym, only to find a current world wrestling champion coaching the youngsters. When we spoke to him, we found out that he does it a few times a week. He explained to us that he comes from the very same community and the very same gym, and that it goes without saying that he had to put something back into the community.
Do the majority of our sports men and women have such an attitude? I would love to think so but wouldnít bet any money on it. It is of utmost importance that we develop a national pride in our sports teams and athletes. A pre-requisite of course, is that our teams and athletes must be successful. No one is really interested in a constant loser. The minister should consider the launching of a national sports patriot of the month and year award by the ministry. This award could be presented to the team or athlete that did the most to advance national pride in a given month. From the monthly winners an annual award could then be made.
The IFP is very happy about the SA traditional games that were very successfully held last year. The sports commission needs to be commended for their effort, and we would like to appeal to them not to lose grip on the initiative. It would be wonderful if we could in the next twelve months for instance, have traditional games in all nine provinces.
We are all very excited about the Cricket World Cup of 2003 being played in South Africa. We are concerned however, that very few matches will be played in traditional black areas. Apparently there also wonít be prominent matches being played there. There is still time to remedy this situation.
The last issue I would like to address, is the issue of NOCSA.
We are in full support that bodies like NOCSA should be independent, and that they should formulate their own policies. This does not however mean, that they are not accountable to the Public and Parliament as the representatives of the public.
Mr. Ramsamy seems to have become the law unto his own, with disastrous consequences. At the recent Olympic Games our country was embarrassed by our baseball team being thrashed time and again, they clearly were not in the league to take part in the Olympic Games. Our menís hockey team, who are the champions of Africa, were however left back at home.
We hope and trust that Mr. Ramsamy is pulled into line, before he embarrasses us again. We will not support government interference in sport, but at the same time we cannot allow people with ulterior motives to harm a national asset like sport.
Mr ET Ferreira, MP 082 490 5119