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12/02/2018 13:25 SAST | Updated 12/02/2018 13:36 SAST

Sports Minister Calls For Transformation In SA Sport Teams🇿🇦

Saying transformation will promote social cohesion and nation building, the minister admitted that it is also "about the political impact of the optics".

Thulas Nxesi, South Africa's minister of sport and recreation.
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Thulas Nxesi, South Africa's minister of sport and recreation.

Thulas Nxesi, the minister of sports and recreation, has expressed his concern at the "lack of transformation" of teams that represent South Africa at international sporting events.

According to Sports24, Nxesi said: "Let us remind ourselves that the transformation of sport is a national priority to promote social cohesion and nation building," at the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) general meeting at Olympic House in Johannesburg.

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"[While] we have seen real progress in some codes – most spectacularly with Rugby 7s – progress appears to be slow in relation to our participation in multicoded international events."

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"For the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Team South Africa was more than 70 percent white. At [the Rio Olympics], the representation was 60 percent white. I hope we will see further improvement in the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

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Quotas in SA sport were introduced to diversify it – to allow athletes that are not white the opportunity to shine in their respective codes. In 2014, then-sports minister Fikile Mbalula announced a 60:40 quota system to be enforced in sports teams, to promote the inclusion of black players.

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There has been criticism of sporting quotas – claims that selection on merit inevitably suffers. It is also argued that the 60:40 quota system is a gradual process that will take time, even years, to be fully implemented and for the national sporting codes to be truly transformed.

"This is about the national image of the country and the credibility of Team South Africa. It is about the political impact of the optics: people see an overwhelmingly white delegation to an international event, and questions are asked in Parliament – and we have to explain why development and transformation is so slow," Nxesi said.

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"We need to discuss the proposition that we may well be delivering sport in an ill-defined environment characterised by inaccessibility, inequality and low participation rates."