Speech delivered by Mr Gert C. Oosthuizen (MP) Deputy Minister of Sport and Recreation (SRSA) on the occasion of the SRSA Budget Vote Debate in the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa

26 May 2017, Cape Town

Theme: "School Sport - the bedrock of our Sport System"

Honourable Speaker,
Minister of Sport and Recreation:
Honourable ThulasNxesi,

This occasion serves as a constant reminder of our historic mission and pledge to the people of South Africa; that is never to dishonour the cause of freedom. We are delivering sport under conditions not chosen by ourselves.

Our sport delivery system is impacted by budget constraints and the absence of adequate equitable share to implement the National Sport and Recreation Plan as adopted by the sports movement and approved by the Cabinet.

The 2017 Sport and Recreation Budget Vote is delivered at a time when numerous national and international studies are painting a disturbing picture of the increasing state of inactivity among both adults and children with grave consequences for a nation.

The World Health Organization has released alarming statistics regarding the growing inactivity of human kind all over the globe, including South Africa. Rapidly rising rates of chronic disease, escalating health care costs and shorter life spans are all linked to declining levels of physical activity.

According to the World Health Organization an estimated 35 million people are dying annually of chronic diseases; diseases that could be linked to inactivity. This is double the number of people dying from infectious diseases such as HIV and AIDS and malaria.

For the first time in history, children in some Western countries have a shorter life expectancy than their parents due to non-communicable diseases.

Very disturbing is that non-communicable diseases such as obesity and high blood pressure all track from childhood through to adulthood. So, the roots of adult ill health and early death lie in childhood. A finding by research shows that one in every 3 to 5 children in the developed world is overweight or obese.

[Die Burger: Healthy Active Kids SA Report Card]

Honourable Speaker, I refer to these research findings with the trust that it will lead to a better understanding why school sport and physical education are such key focus areas for our department. We believe that school sport and physical activity are the most effective preventive treatment for combating the increasing worldwide non-communicable diseases.

The relationship between sedentary behaviors and the prevalence of obesity has been well documented. We need an urgent commitment to increase physical activity levels. Special emphasis must be placed on youth, especially kids under the age of 10. We must find ways to integrate physical activity back into our daily lives through the design of our schools, cities, communities and the built environment. This is a powerful preventive course of action and a critical investment in the development of our nation. Physical activity should be considered a 'best buy' in a large number of areas such as physical health, mental health, school and career success, personal well-being, transformation, and the list goes on.

As a country, we have to address this growing phenomenon of inactivity as the economic costs are unaffordable and the human costs are unforgivable. This cannot be allowed to continue unabated on our watch.

As Ministry and Department, we are compelled to do everything possible to fulfill our vision of an active nation. Not only for health reasons, but also to maximize the impact of sport on economic growth, on peace keeping and peace building, social cohesion and nation-building. We have to ensure dignity, equality and mutual respect for all women and men.

Outcome 14 of Governments Programme of Action, acknowledges that despite progress since 1994, South African society remains divided. As a delivery partner to Outcome 14, our Department will continue to offer opportunities for communities to participate in sport and recreation events that unite and foster social cohesion.

Our sector promotes participation in sport and recreation; we advocate and enact transformation in sport and recreation; we develop talented athletes by providing them with opportunities to excel; and we support high performance athletes to achieve success in international sport.

In addressing the need for social unification, SRSA will continue to utilize sport as a vehicle for cohesion and nation-building. The UNITE campaign will be activated in partnership with the Department of Arts and Culture during the 2017/ 2018 calendar year. This is a core partnership for us as it contributes towards a meaningful social cohesion programme.

As Government, we are doing everything in our power to ensure that our athletes fly the South African flag high and collect medals that will put smiles on the faces of this sport-loving nation.

Within our Winning Nation Programme the focus on sport development is spread across the entire sport continuum. To this end, we prioritize this element of our sport support to ensure that talent is identified and nurtured through the management and coordination of various athlete support programmes.

Amongst the athlete support programmes provided is the Ministerial Sports Bursary which is awarded to learners from Grade 8 until they complete their high school education.

The development of our athletes is largely informed by the South African Sport Academy Strategic Framework developed by the Department.

The sport focus schools serve as feeders to the district academies of sport which is the second layer of the sport academy system.

In 2016/17 23 Sport Focus Schools were confirmed. This number is expected to increase to 54 during 2017/18. The District Sport Academies play a key role in talent identification, selection and development.

The National Sport Academies are at the core of high performance sport. The national academies are responsible for athlete and team preparation. In consultation with SASCOC, the Department will facilitate and oversee the establishment of one of the components of the national academy system, that of the National Training and Olympic Preparatory Centre, based in Bloemfontein.

As government, we reiterate our commitment of fighting doping in sport. To ensure a drug-free sport environment, we will continue to support all anti-doping agencies domestically and internationally.

I am happy to report that the World Anti-Doping Agency confirmed last year, its approval that the South African Doping Control Laboratory can once again conduct blood sample analysis. SRSA will further collaborate with the University of the Free State to ensure that WADA approves our Laboratory's application to be fully accredited which will allow the laboratory to also conduct urine sample analysis.

As our athletes fly our flag high internationally, we show appreciation and recognize their achievements by rewarding our athletes through the Ministerial Outstanding Sports Performance Accolades.

Other Awards are the SA Sports Awards and the Andrew Mlangeni Green Jacket Programme which was established to recognise men and women who have excelled in sport either as a player or as an official.

Following the successful Regional Sports Awards of the AU Sports Council Region Five in 2016, South Africa will host the 2017 Awards tomorrow in Johannesburg. This event is intended to honour the regional achievers in sport.

The Department will continue to provide financial support to sport and recreation bodies as well as for programmes and projects aimed at developing sport and recreation in the country.

A national federation to receive intensive support is selected each year. In 2012, additional assistance was rendered to netball, in 2013 to tennis; 2014 to basketball; 2015 to boxing and in 2016 additional support was provided to hockey. Volleyball will be the recipient of this extra support in 2017/18.

International Relations are becoming more and more important. Worldwide sport strategies are focusing more on increasing the levels of participation in sport and recreation, as well as achieving success in sport. This is reflected in our vision of "An active and Wining Nation!"

Within the region South Africa will continue to participate in the activities of the African Union Sports Council, Region 5. We participate in various committees of the Region, that of, Sport for Development, Women in Sport, and Persons with Disability, Marketing and Finance committee as well as the Executive Committee meetings

South Africa is also a valued member of BRICS. The focus of the Ministry of Sport will be on our participation in the BRICS Summit that will be hosted by China in September this year.

At this event South Africa will interact with other members regarding the BRICS Sports Council and the future of the BRICS Games. As we speak, South Africa is preparing to send two sport teams to participate in the 2017 BRICS Games in China.

2017 is an important year for global sport. The International Conference of Ministers and Senior Officials responsible for Physical Education and Sport, MINEPS VI, is scheduled to take place in Kazan, the Russian Federation in July 2017.

As Chairperson of the CIGEPS, South Africa played a leading role in the preparations and the development of the policy documents for MINEPS VI.

Under the leadership of South Africa, MINEPS VI is expected to mark a shift from declarations of policy intent towards measurable actions. In fact; Governments world-wide need to experience the impact of sport in the different spheres of society. This MINEPS VI will be structured around three main themes namely:

  • Developing a comprehensive vision of inclusive access for all;
  • Maximizing the contributions of sport to sustainable development and peace; and
  • Protecting the integrity of sport.

MINEPS VI is an important event for the sport sector globally as it provides us with an opportunity to interrogate afresh how governments can embrace the potential of sport and Physical Education.

Through this process governments can also answer the call of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals that have identified the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies as among the most urgent, yet challenging issues across the 2030 Agenda.

I am pleased to announce that South Africa was elected as a pilot country for the implementation of UNESCO's Quality Physical Education Programme. Close cooperation with the Department of Basic Education in this regard is of the essence-working together, we do more.

It is positive to note that after much lobbying for the provision of sport and recreation facilities by municipalities and other relevant institutions, it was agreed that SRSA will once more facilitate and monitor the utilisation of R300 million of MIG funds in the 2017/18 financial year. These will be ring fenced funds that can only be spent on sport infrastructure projects identified by SRSA.

We will also continue to support the delivery of community gyms and children's' play parks by municipalities. The aim with this support is to deliver and encourage recreation to our communities.

In conclusion, I want to emphasize that the potential of sport, its global reach, its universal language, its impact on communities in general, and young people in particular, is a fact which is increasingly being recognized around the world.

This is also acknowledged by the United Nations. In paragraph 37 of the document entitled, "Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development" it is stated and I quote:

"Sport is an important enabler of sustainable development. We recognize the growing contribution of sport to the realisation of development and peace in its promotion of tolerance and respect and the contributions it makes to the empowerment of women and of young people, individuals and communities as well as to health, education and social inclusion objectives." Unquote

In South Africa, the time to invest and capitalize in and on this potential of sport is NOW. If we as the leaders of the sport sector do not embrace the potential benefits of sport and recreation, an injustice will be done to all South Africans.

We need to believe in the power of sport to deliver in and on peace building, peace keeping, social cohesion and nation building. The driving force of our actions should be the passion to maximize the potential of sport to address many of the ills in society linked to inactivity; to play an important role in the achievement of the 2030 SDGs and to contribute in building healthy and peaceful communities and a better South Africa for all.



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