We would promote sports tourism in a manner that creates jobs

The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Sports and Recreation, Darren Bergman MP, during the Budget Sport and Recreation.
Year on year, speech after speech, we speak about the same thing. We all want transformation. We all want to ensure that the citizens of our country can partake in any sport from a school and community perspective.
However, if we were to take a snap shot today and compare it to a picture of where we were three years ago, when we started out on this journey together – we would find that nothing has changed.
We are still wishing and hoping for the same things, with an ever-decreasing budget and the hopes of seeing the impact of our input diminishing too.
Our last Minister’s flair for the dramatic resulted in him attempting to take away the Rugby World Cup in what he felt was punishment to the South African Rugby Union (SARU), but it would have in fact been punishment to the thousands of rugby fans across the country.
So focused was Minister Fikile Mbalula on pomp and ceremony that we chased a Commonwealth dream that put financial burden on all three spheres of government.
The Commonwealth Games was an event that we never should have chased, knowing the budgetary constraints in which this country finds itself and the infrastructure we would have needed, to please the games committee.
It was embarrassing to see us lose the opportunity in such a thoughtless manner.
Thankfully the new Minister seems to possess a far more positive view on the Rugby World Cup and the committee seems to be coming around to the efficacy of responsible sports tourism.
I have made input on an international stage calling for South Africa to use some of the African Renaissance Fund to create an African sports tournament. These are the types of events that we should be chasing and hosting because they require less cost and generate more turnover and better returns not only in income, but in jobs and diplomacy.
It is time the headings in our budget reflect more accurately what we are trying to achieve.
We should return to generally accepted accounting terms. In one of our first committee meetings, I warned that when it came to broad term budgets we opened ourselves to broad term allocations.
Now more than ever the budgets need to align to specific long term goals in building better relationships with sporting codes; ensuring better infrastructure in schools and communities.
I hope the new broom will sweep away the left-overs of the glitter and pom-poms that were the legacy of the last Minister and look more at building sports from its foundation to its leaves.
We as the Sports Committee should worry less about attending the national games and focus more on supporting schools, clubs and provincial leagues to increase interest, attendance and of course participation. It is internationally accepted that big stars draw young kids into the games.
We need to look after our heroes and help them inspire more participation from a young level.
Our budget alone will not achieve this. It is important that we bring in at least Basic Education and Health to share ideas and innovation in increasing participation from a school level and decreasing health issues starting at a young age.
Our oversight visits have been productive most of the time. We always seem to uncover an issue or two that shows the breakdown in funding between provinces and the municipalities, or municipalities and the communities. This leads me to the premise that most of our meetings should be on the field and not in the board room.
Crossing the length and breadth of this country, we have met principles and MECs. We have met sporting codes and promoters. Without fail, I have seen people given little but make a lot and I have seen people given a lot but not ever having enough.
It proves to me that with the right people in charge, opportunities are created.
The Department of Sports and Recreation, through its provincial counterparts, should be ensuring that money ring-fenced for sports and recreation is used for that specific purpose. Teachers, coaches, and officials should be enthused and motivated through innovative funding and staffing methods that create skills, growth and competitiveness.
Finally the elephant in the room. Transformation.
No one seems to differ on the fact that we want to see teams that are fully transformed in race and gender parity. We just have different views on how to get there and who we should be monitoring to get us there.
If you rely on the unions to make the transformation and never accept any responsibility as government then you will always find excuses and make everyone else the scapegoat.
It is time we meet the sporting federations by resourcing schools, clubs and communities through Division of Revenue Act grants and Municipal Infrastructure Grant and creating and supplying talent pools to be taken through the sporting system.
We need to find accommodation between the recommendations and findings from the Eminent Persons Group and our own committee oversight evidence to ensure that transformation is fast tracked in a manner that is sustainable.
Historically it has been two sporting events that have united this country to unprecedented levels. We must never try divide this country with the only committee that has brought us together.
In a DA-led South Africa we would ensure a better working relationship between Health, Education and ourselves. We would promote sports tourism in a responsible manner that builds jobs, creates careers and grows tourism.
We would ensure that the talent in our country if found. Whether you are from the most rural areas or the most prestigious school – you will be found, you will be taken care of and you will be able to realise your dream.
Sportsmen and women that represent our country will be appreciated and treated as ambassadors and we will make sure that recreational activities are easy and safe to access and most importantly enjoyed together by all.
For in a DA-governed country we won’t divide or talk on race – we will talk and deliver on growth and opportunities. Let sports lead the way in uniting South Africa.