Address at the second International Sport and Development Congress at the University of the Western Cape by Gert C Oosthuizen MP, Deputy Minister of Sport and Recreation SA
2 Dec 2011
Ladies and gentlemen
Thank you for the kind invitation to officiate at this International Congress on Sport and Development hosted here at the University of Western Cape.
It is indeed a prestigious congress considering the calibre of leadership from all walks of life present, including the international sporting fraternity.
In particular I value the presence of our colleagues from Russia who are working very closely with South Africa in the Sport for Development and Peace International Working Group. South Africa serves as the first Chair of the Sport for Development and Peace Thematic Group with Russia the Vice-Chair. These positions will be reversed next year.
Mr Wilfried Lemke, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Sport for Development and Peace, you can rest assured that South Africa is totally committed to fulfill its responsibilities and to contribute to initiatives aimed at maximizing the potential of sport as a valuable tool in sport for development and sport for peace initiatives.
It is my hope that the deliberations at this congress will reinforce sport as a movement for positive changes in a world where we cannot afford to eliminate any sector of society. I have no doubt that valuable information will be shared that will assist delegates to explore the vast potential of the power of sport to the advantage of their countries and mankind- World wide.
Centre of Excellence for Sport Sciences and Development
I wish to congratulate the Centre of Excellence for Sport Sciences and Development here at the University of the Western Cape in organising this congress.
Mr Lemke you must be very proud on what this Centre has achieved since you officially launched it in 2009 as the first Centre in Africa to promote sport for social change and to advance sport’s capacity to improve the health and well-being of disadvantaged communities.
I am impressed with the noble mission of the Centre, namely to contribute to the understanding and advancement of sport as a tool for development in South Africa through high quality research, teaching, community engagement and new technologies and the application of sport science to advance the physical, social and economic development and well-being of South African and African communities.
I have also taken keen interest in some of the research studies undertaken by the Centre of Excellence for Sport Sciences and Development. Information emanating from these research studies could be relevant to the work of my Department.Here I refer to research projects such as:
- Effects of 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup on local communities in South Africa;
- Sport and community well-being in rural communities;
- Sport as a tool for Nation Building and Peace;
- A Governance framework for Development through Sport;
- Sport and the environment and & inter-culturalism; and
- Sport, Recreation and Community Development, focusing on leadership, capacity building and sustainability. Ladies and Gentleman,a very important topic, as we desperately need to build a strong leadership corps in South African sport at all the different levels of the development continuum.
It is important for South Africa to keep abreast with and to take a leading role in global developments regarding the role of sport in a country’s social affairs. Worldwide there is an increasing acknowledgement that sport has the potential to promote social inclusion, prevent conflict, and to enhance peace within and among nations.In this regard the UN General Assembly has adopted a series of resolutions on Sport for Development and Peace. Although sport alone cannot prevent conflict or build peace, it can contribute to broader, more comprehensive efforts in a number of important ways.
Over the past decade, UN agencies, international sports federations and international non-Governmental organisations’ have been using sport as a tool for development and peace. These efforts concluded that, in addition to sport’s inherent benefits, well-designed sport and recreation initiatives can be powerful, practical, and cost-effective tools to achieve development and peace objectives.
Violence is often the result of deep-seated frustration and idleness.Such frustration can easily be redirected through sport.Through sport, the inclination to behave in an unacceptable or inappropriate manner is contained through the discipline inherent in the approach to sport in general.Sport provides idle people with an alternative to crime, violence and anti-social patterns of behaviour.
Celebrity athletes, in particular, can be extremely influential as role models and spokespeople for peace and can serve, at times, as intermediaries between hostile groups, creating openings for dialogue.By sharing sports experiences, sports participants increasingly grow to feel that they are alike, rather than different.
Evidence highlights the impact of sport in relation to creating stronger communities and addressing issues of community safety, including reductions in anti-social behaviour, reductions in the propensity to commit crime, and reductions in the ‘fear’ of crime amongst the wider community.
By adopting a new resolution on “Sports as a means to promote education, health, development and peace” on 18 October 2010 the General Assembly of the United Nations reaffirmed the importance of sport as a tool to foster cooperation, solidarity, healthy lifestyles and social inclusion.
The intriguing nature of the power of sport emanates from the fact that it knows no barriers of language or culture, spans every sport imaginable as well as every age group. It is a universal language!
In South Africa we have experienced the power of sport especially in our hosting of numerous world-class sporting events, and as a country we have largely benefitted from these events – not only economically but also in critical areas such as social cohesion and nation building.Do I need to remind you of what was achieved by South Africa during the 2010 FIFA World Cup?
Bulls in Soweto
The legacy of the 2010 FIFA World Cup stretches beyond the obvious tangibles: the stadiums, the roads, the airports and the new equipment acquired for the police, emergency medical services and other government service points.
South Africans, irrespective of gender, colour, political affiliation or class united behind our national football team and national symbols as never before. The sea of green and gold that greeted spectators at football matches inspired national pride and confidence like nothing else. (Bafana-Bafana then Baghana)
As South Africans we have experienced that because of its visibility, sport plays an enormous part in fostering social integration and identity-building of minorities and marginalized groups such as street children, ethnic groups or people suffering from HIV and AIDS. Sport also support local economic development and create jobs through the numerous income-generating activities that are linked to its practice.
The Ministry of Sport and Recreation firmly believes that sport is one of the most important cohesive factors in uniting the entire nation.This potential should be further harnessed for the good of the South African community.
To this end, we should fully utilize the opportunity that sport offers to demonstrate the best qualities of South African society to the world.
Delegates, To fully benefit from and exploit the social and economic opportunities of sport it is essential to have an integrated sport system in place that is effectively coordinated, aligned, functional and performance oriented. To realise such a system for South African sport we have just finalised the first ever National Sport and Recreation Plan of Government.This Plan was approved just two weeks ago at a National Sports Indaba in Midrand- Gauteng.
At this Indaba delegates took time to construct a collective ‘case for sport and recreation’ in our country.We did this, together, committed in our collective wisdom to change sport in South Africa for the better.
We have drawn inspiration and benefitted immensely from the international guests and friends who shared their experiences with us. We have also learnt with great interests from the personal stories of triumph and recipes for success and excellences from our own sporting heroes.
National Sport and Recreation Plan
Ladies and Gentlemen, our adopted National Sport and Recreation Plan is a collective expression of sports people in the Republic.It is a tailored implementation framework of our broad strategic priorities into achievable outcomes that are measurable. Over and above our sporting sector we firmly believe that this Plan will also find resolute support from all in our political leadership and spheres of government.
The strategic focus of the National Sport and Recreation Plan is to reconstruct and revitalize the sport and recreation sector for an active and winning nation whilst improving the quality of lives of all South Africans.
The National Sport and Recreation Plan is therefore focused on increasing levels of participation in sport and recreation, as well as achieving success in international sport.
The Plan focuses on these two internationally recognised pillars for a successful sport system as well as the enablers required.
In addition to the strategic focus areas there are other important transversal issues of the sport system that cuts across all the levels of the development continuum.
I refer to the prioritization of our sports federations, a code of ethics for South African sport and transformation.
Attached to the Plan is a Transformation Charter aimed to bring about the establishment of a competitive and demographically representative sport system guided by a value set based on equal opportunity, fairness, just behaviour, equitable resource distribution, and empowerment.
The National Sports Plan further provides for South Africa to have, among others, an effective and well coordinated sport system; a system where physical education and sport is practiced in all schools which will result in school children broadening the talent pool; sufficient and accessible sports facilities that are well maintained by Municipalities and fully utilized by communities; a system where our country will be acknowledged as a leader in world sport and serve as a choice destination for major events and sports tourism; where the 2010 nation building spirit is maintained in all major events; and good corporate governance that prevails in our sport.
It must be also realised that after the approval of the National Sports Plan there will be consequentials. I refer to the need to review the legal framework of the South African sport system, to improve institutional mechanisms and to align the funding model in sport.
The implementation of the National Sport and Recreation Plan is non-negotiable. To action this effectively may necessitate restructuring at an institutional level.We can not expect to do the same thing with the same people and get different results.We must be bold in our action.
In conclusion, Governments and all other role-players in sport must use the power of sport to fight the ills faced by our society.
The challenges that are experienced in health, crime and disunity, to mention a few, can be defeated through sport. What we need is for communities across the racial lines to work, celebrate and cry together as they did during the FIFA World Cup.
It is my sincere wish that this gathering will forge new networks and friendships between industry players, academics, governments and international organisations.
The wider perspective that this interaction brings, will assist us to do what we do in a smarter way and to fully maximise the power of sport creating a better world.
I wish you well in your deliberations
I thank you.
Issued by: Sport and Recreation South Africa
2 Dec 2011
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