It has been 23 years since South Africa has been recognised as a democratic country. We have experienced our fair share of national glory and national pain with our national team sports. A perennial agenda with South African sports is always on transformation and how to conquer international sporting events.
Focusing on SA's top 3 sports, rugby, cricket and football, Huff Post SA delves deeper into who's actually succeeding in transformation for SA national sports by looking at the Proteas, Springboks and Bafana Bafana.
Rugby in South Africa is a passionate sport that was the catalyst for the new era of hope and transformation in South Africa following our 1995 world cup win. Rugby is also our most successful sporting code as Springboks can boost two IRB world cups under their belt, a feat only beaten by New Zealand.
However, despite our international achievements, the Springboks have been scrutinised for our team identity. Springboks have been labelled as a white team as it is predominately white players.
It reached levels of concern when former minister of sports Fikile Mbalula sanctioning SA Rugby from hosting any international tournament before we sorted our transformation issues.
Major Achievements - 2 IRB World Cups, 1995 & 2007 🏆🏆
7's World Series Champions, 2009 & 2016🏆🏆
3 Super Rugby Titles, Blue Bulls 🏆🏆🏆
Global Relevance - With our two IRB world cups, the Springboks have always been regarded as a powerhouse in world rugby. With aspirations to host the 2023 world cup, following our transformation ban being lifted, South African rugby is regarded one of rugby's top 3, which includes New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, who share 7 world cup between them.
Not only are the Blitzboks world champions. They are the first national team in almost a decade to claim an international trophy of significance (South Africa previously won the title in the 2008/09 series).
Major Downfall - Springboks team identity and lack of transformation will always cast a shadow on the sport. We are torn between merit and identity. Should there be a case of transformation of the Springboks are winning without black players? Or should we focus on transforming our identity and become a work in progress?
Verdict - 7/10
If there is a national sports team that is capable of taking you on a rollercoaster of emotions, it would have to be Bafana Bafana. With the hosting of the 2010 Fifa world cup perhaps our biggest achievement, Bafana have failed to be consistent and being recognised as an African football powerhouse.
With only one continental trophy and the constant chopping and changing of coaches, Bafana is light years behind powerhouses Egypt, Cameroon, Senegal and Ivory Coast. We suffer from big match phobias as we tend to win the games we are not supposed to win (friendlies), and lose the important games such as qualifiers and knockout games.
South Africa does, however, have world class infrastructure and quality stadiums recognised throughout the world, and we have Africa's largest stadium in Soccer City.
Major Achievements - African Cup Of Nations, 1996 🏆
1st African country to host FIFA WC, 2010 🇿🇦
World Class Stadiums
Global Relevance - The legacy left by the 2010 Fifa world cup is evidently and proudly represented with our world class stadiums. South Africa has the largest stadium in Africa with a capacity of 85 000. We also have two stadiums recognised for aesthetic beauty and 60 000 plus capacity in Moses Mabhida & Cape Town stadium.
South African football is also recognised for our global exports: former Leeds United captain Lucas Radebe, Everton player of the year Steven Pienaar and Uefa champions league winner Benni McCarthy.
Major Downfall - Bafana Bafana are chokers, we fail to win the big important clashes. We have not won a continental trophy in 20 years, we are yet to be consistent as a unit and have not qualified for a Fifa world cup since 2002 (2010 Automatic host).
Our most embarrassing moment perhaps came in 2012 when the national team celebrated qualifying for the AFCON on goal difference with Khune leading the dancing and celebrations in the stadium. Only to find out minutes later we did not qualify, and that head-to-head settles who finishes top and not goal difference.
We later found out that Bafana did not qualify for the AFCON and SAFA, as well as Bafana, were dubbed a joke for not being aware of the rules and technicalities.
Verdict - 6/10
Where do we start with the Proteas? For starters, the South African cricket side is currently ranked number 1st in One Day Internationals, 2nd in Test cricket and 3rd in the world for T20.
Cricket South Africa have also bred the new poster boy for SA Cricket, as young sensation, Kagiso Rabada has taken the world by storm with his meteoric rise. The rise of Quinton De Kock, Kagiso Rabada and Temba Bavuma brings hope to the future of SA Cricket. The Proteas ultimately need to step up and start producing at the international level
The Proteas continue to be haunted by this bad omen which has starved the Proteas of winning an ODI tournament (One Day International) dating back to 1998. A 19-year drought! South Africa last won an international tournament in 1998.
Major Achievements - ICC Champions Cup, 1998 🏆
311 Runs not out, Test Record, Hashim Amla vs England, 2012
Global Relevance - The Proteas are a powerhouse in world cricket. With the likes of Hashim Amla, AB De Villiers and Dale Steyn, Proteas light up every competition they compete in. With a variety of players on demand in the Indian Premier League. South Africa are also ranked 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the world for ODI's, Test and T20 cricket.
Perhaps of all three sports, cricket is the one embracing transformation and team identity. Kagiso Rabada is now a global superstar, Temba Bavuma is slowly becoming a 1st team player and Vernon Philander is finding his best form since he was at his peak back in 2012.
Major Downfall - South African cricket simply cannot handle the pressure in the big games. The number 1 ranked ODI nation continue to be haunted by this bad omen which has starved the Proteas of winning an ODI tournament (One Day International) dating back to 1998. A 19-year drought! South Africa last won an international tournament in 1998.
With the 2019 Cricket World Cup looming, the Proteas need to put their failures behind them and develop a winning DNA that stems down from development level.
The Proteas also need to evaluate the technical team and bring in personnel who know a thing or two about winning on a global stage. South African cricket is at a stage where there is an influx of upcoming talent and being able to brew them with the experienced campaigners.
Verdict - 6.5/10