Speech by Minister of Sports, Arts & Culture, Hon. EN Mthethwa on the occasion of interacting with athletes at the National School Sport Championships.
The National Sport and Recreation Plan has identified the school sport programme as the bedrock of our entire sport development continuum. Since 2012, we have been investing heavily into this programme and have steadily reached more young people. We have identified 16 priority codes and indigenous games codes as being of importance to assist South Africa in becoming the future dominant powerhouse of sport globally.
The following sporting codes are played in the school sport programme: Football, Netball, Athletics, Cricket, Rugby, Softball, Volleyball, Gymnasics, Swimming, Chess, Basketball, Tennis, Goalball, Hockey, Amateur Boxing and Table Tennis
The tournament has been held over this past week and I’m told that the talent was there for everyone to see. It is for this reason that we view this programme as the bedrock of our entire development continuum. It is through this programme that we develop a healthy pipeline for our future national teams and for the junior teams of our country. The school sport programme had in the past produced greats and legends such as Hezekiel Sepeng, Siyabonga Sangweni, Lucas Radebe, Penny Heyns, Caster Mokgadi Semenya, Doctor Khumalo, Cameron van der Berg, Zanele Mdodana and many others.
The team spirit and the performances over this past week, are a good indicator that the system is maturing and that the future looks brighter. This week has been a culmination of the Local Sport Competitive Festivals at school circuit levels and to the District Championships, followed by the Provincial Championships, with you the best school sport athletes of our country participating in this National Championships here in eThekwini.
It had been a week of winning, a week of making friends, a week of competition, of good scores, of talent unearthed and of great exposure for most of you the athletes gathered here. May you take all the memories of this day and let them inspire you to do well in sport and also for you to share with your school mates and friends, so that they too can be inspired to do better in future.
We are now implementing three championships annually. The Autumn Championships for Athletics and Swimming; This Winter Championship and the Summer Championship in December. The school sport programme is growing in leaps and bounds. More school are participating and we are seeing even rural and township schools making it to the championship. We have now ring-fenced in the Provincial Grants allocations, 40% of the whole grant to be utilised on for school sport. To provide the schools that need sport equipment and sport attire. The budget includes funding to deliver you the athletes and teams to these three championships. It also includes funding for the training of your teachers to be able to coach you well and to administer the programme at school level.
We have re-affiliated South Africa to the International Schools Federations (ISF), we have now directed the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) to take the responsibility of delivering school sport teams to the International Championships hosted by the ISF. We wish to showcase that your our junior athletes are among the best in the world and can compete as well as win on the global stage. We also wish to give you the junior athletes exposure early on in your sporting lives to international tournaments and competitions, so that the Olympics simply becomes yet another international tournament were you win medals. Winning is a habit and we should include this in you as this early stage.
Going forward, we will continue with the programme and grow it further to reach more schools in rural, farms and townships. We should seek to enrich the programme at the lower tiers so that more learners access the programme. We continue to make the case for school sport and its funding by the private sector. Over the years, Nestle’ through their Milo brand have been involved with the programme. Coca Cola and many other sponsors have partnered with us to deliver on this programme. Our partner in our sister department, Basic Education, will continue to work with us in improving the programme. As with all the good things, even this championship has to come to an end. Please travel back home safely and continue to participate in sport. A Child on the sporting court is a child out of court. Research confirms that children who play sport also perform better educationally.
I have the pleasure and the honour to declare the 2019 National School Sport Winter Championship officially closed.