Our Policies/The Opportunity Society/
At a glance
THE PURSUIT OF EXCELLENCE: The case for a South African Sports Academy
Documents to Download
- Sport's Policy dc (108 kb)
- The Democratic Alliance understands the potential role sport can play in our democracy and the defining role it plays in shaping and influencing our identity, as individuals and as a country.
- It also understands the potential sport has to play in more practical terms, as an opportunity to enrich and fulfil one’s day-to-day life, to uplift and empower and, in the case of those with the ability and talent to achieve success at the highest level, as a diverse profession with the potential to open up a myriad different possibilities.
- South Africa’s ability to properly compete at international level, however, has been undermined on two fronts:
- First, sport has become politicised and its administration subject to sustained interference; and,
- Second, following from this, a relentless drive for transformation and an ever-increasing hostility toward the pursuit of excellence has damaged our sporting institutions and resulted in a failure to produce a new and diverse generation of sports professionals able to compete on the world stage.
- As a consequence of this, and in line with international best practice, the Democratic Alliance is advocating for the establishment of a South African Sports Academy: a centre of sporting excellence.
- There is one prerequisite for a South African Sports Academy to function properly - and that is the availability of sporting facilities to all South Africans. As the building and maintenance of infrastructure is the responsibility of municipalities, and due to the fact that there is a serious backlog with regard to sporting infrastructure specifically, the DA proposes that the amount spent on sports be ring-fenced as a separate and appropriate allocation that must be spent on sporting infrastructure.
- The Academy, housed at a national centre of excellence, would be funded primarily by the state, and its centre would boast the best facilities and the highest standard of coaching.
- The Academy would be tasked with:
- Developing a national programme of action across as many sporting codes as possible;
- Identifying and recruiting South Africa’s sporting potential;
- Pursuing a programme of excellence in developing that talent and, thus, producing the next generation of sporting talent able to compete at the highest level; and,
- In turn, place South Africa on a par with the super-powers of world sport.
- Based on international best practice, the South African Sports Academy would have the following characteristics and serve the following specific functions:
- Its administration and programme of action would be independent of the state, yet it would report to Parliament on its finances and, ultimately, fall under the department of sport and recreation;
- Its ability to identify and recruit young sportsmen and women would revolve around a series of recruitment programmes and incentives, and the ability of a core staff of scouts tasked with roaming the country, liaising with schools and sporting institutions to identify new talent.
- It would form a partnership with leading sporting schools, across a range of sporting codes, to establish a bursary scheme designed to give anyone with potential the opportunity to develop and fulfil it at an institution with the best facilities and expertise.
- It would recruit a local and international coaching staff which would comprise the best expertise in any particular area. This point deserves special mention and particular emphasis: The Academy will only ever be as good as its coaching staff. Their ability will, in turn, define the ability of those sportsmen and women recruited to the Academy. Everything possible must be done to ensure that the widest, most experienced pool of coaching talent be recruited by the Academy from the start, and that the emphasis on producing new coaching talent be no different to that placed on producing a new generating of athletes.
- Its programmes would be benchmarked against international best practice and would not only offer the appropriate training in a given discipline but a range of other courses, such as on media relations and nutrition, all of which are necessary to the modern sports professional.
- It would boast the best facilities and equipment.
- It would offer the possibility of training fulltime at the Academy as a resident and on a scholarship, or part time, as a means of supplementing a person’s further education.
- It would be established nationally at first with a view to replicating the institution at provincial level in the medium to long term.
- Intrinsic to the success of this idea are two other important concepts, which are worth highlighting:
- First, if this model is to be successfully adopted it relies on the willing participation of those schools and private bodies also dedicated to sport, it is in many ways a partnership and any partnership is only as strong as its weakest link.
- Second, it requires a change in attitude on the part of government and a belief that excellence should be championed, promoted and supported, not just financially but individually, down to the very athletes themselves and the institutions that manage them. A South African Sports Academy must embody that attitude; it cannot be tainted by compromise or half-measure and, for that to happen, there needs to be a collective commitment to strive toward being the best, in everything we do.
- If we do that, there is no record South Africa cannot break, no medal we cannot win and no competition we cannot dominate. Our potential is all around us; harnessing it is our greatest challenge.