Speech by Mr. Gert Oosthuizen MP, Dep Min of Sport & Recreation, Opening Ceremony of National Institute for the Deaf - 12 MARCH 2019
The official opening of the National Institute of the Deaf coincides with our country celebrating and commemorating our Human Rights Month.
Our Constitution, which is hailed as one of the most progressive in the world; is the ultimate protector of our Human Rights. We further commemorate Human Rights Day to reinforce our commitment to the Bill of Rights as enshrined in our Constitution.
Our Bill of rights as enshrined in our constitution speaks of the right to equality which addresses pillars 1, 4 and 5 of the White Paper on the rights of persons with disabilities.
As Government, we have made a commitment to deliver school sport through a sustainable school sport system. The policy aims to regulate the delivery of school sport for all learners, irrespective of disability, across all schools in an age-appropriate and/or grade appropriate way, based on the principle of equity and access.
Our first MoU was signed back in 2011 by both Minister of Sport and Recreation SA and Minister of Education, giving rise to commitments by both departments to deliver a sustainable integrated plan to provide learners with the opportunity to take part in physical education and organized sport through the creation of an accessible and implementable school sport support system. Today we have Provincial Sport competitions leading to our National School Sport Championships.
The pool of school sports in the recently signed MOU has been expanded to also include disabled learners who can equally compete. Disabled learners can now compete and take part in integrated, multi-coded activities.
Persons who are Deaf or have Hearing Impairments can take part and benefit from most Sports, hobbies and other physical activities. As Department, we have created opportunities for all learners in our country, irrespective of their status, to take part in competitive sport at school level, institutional level and ultimately internationally.
Some of the opportunities we have created include making available sport facilities in line with our policy of creating an enabling environment.
I have been informed that the Institution does not have sport facilities and relies mainly on sport infrastructure from the school of the deaf which is situated next door. This we cannot overlook. In order to bridge this infrastructure gap, I request the Institution to formally write to my office requesting assistance with a sport facility.
We all know that the opportunities associated with taking part in sport are endless. In short, a healthy mind in a healthy body.
We are further creating an enabling environment through the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) for deaf athletes enabling them to take part in The International Committee of Sports for the Deaf (ICSD) & Deaflympics.
SASCOC is responsible for high-performance sport and coordinates the relationship with various international sports federations.
The International Committee of Sports for the Deaf (ICSD) is the main governing body responsible for the organization of Deaflympics and the World Deaf Championships. It was founded in 1924 and is now approaching the century mark of being the organization behind building, evolving and fortifying the tradition of inviting deaf/hard of hearing elite athletes from all over the world to come together, not only to compete in their respective sports, but to also develop friendships between their countries.
The Deaflympics (previously called World Games for the Deaf, and International Games for the Deaf) is an International Olympic Committee (IOC)-sanctioned event at which deaf athletes compete at an elite level.
The latest acknowledgement took place after our athletes took part in the 2018 Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast during the Rio Paralympics.
Through SASCOC a powerful team was named. Team South Africa were to do battle across 16 codes, including para-sports eg. athletics, lawn bowls, swimming, table tennis and powerlifting. Sporting codes which South Africa participated in included athletics, badminton, bowls, boxing, cycling (mountain bike, road, track), gymnastics, hockey, netball, rugby sevens, shooting, table tennis, triathlon, weightlifting and wrestling.
South Africa sent a powerful delegation of 196 athletes including both able bodied and disabled athletes to compete in various disciplines which managed to collect 35 medals.
The Athletes during this international competition managed to do extremely well and managed to contribute to improvement of South Africa’s medal standing amongst other countries, thus improving South Africa’s ranking at the Commonwealth Games 2018 to the 5th position, setting up a great platform ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.
A number of sporting codes are available for deaf athletes to take part in which includes Athletics & Swimming. Due to the fact that there is no category for the Deaf in the Paralympics, some deaf athletes have been known to compete in the Olympic Games in both Athletics & Swimming.
Deaf Cricket & Football is also available for The Deaf and persons with Hearing Impairments in South Africa at national, provincial and club level. Hearing disabilities are no obstacle to playing Cricket or Soccer but there is a minor difference between the so-called main-stream Cricket or Soccer, such as the level of noise during the deaf sports event and the main-stream match.
Deaf rugby players have been playing since the game first started to be played. A South African deaf rugby team first competed internationally back in 1995, when they toured New Zealand and beat the hosts 2-1 in a three-match series. The South African Deaf Rugby Union (SADRU); just like their able-bodied counterparts, the Springboks, are aiming to be the best in the world.
Golf & Bowls for the deaf is also available to all individuals with Hearing Impairments in South Africa.
Paragliding is a recreational and competitive adventure sport of flying paragliders where we have seen people with a hearing impairment, excel.
Scuba Diving Scuba Diving is a very popular recreational activity for disabled & able people all across the world, not to mention in our waters & climate.
Tennis & Table Tennis are both played at social, club & Provincial level and International level. Both sports are competed in at the Deaflympic Games.
In conclusion: allow me to take this opportunity and congratulate the department of Education for being associated with this institution.
I await your request for sporting infrastructure and look forward seeing sporting champions from this Institution.
I thank you!