Dear Mr Mbalula,
A belated congratulations on your appointment. As a sports-mad South African, I hope the transformation of sport and the creation of an “Active and Winning Nation” truly is your goal.
But please note, by transformation, I don’t mean haranguing rugby and cricket about quotas or the number of black players in the squads – which appears to have been the sole “transformation strategy” of your predecessors. By true, grassroots transformation, I don’t mean focusing at the senior national level, but concentrating resources, time and money at school, club and community level.
By committing resources to developing structures, leagues and competitions that identify, nurture and develop talent among our young, we will provide every boy or girl with an opportunity to represent South Africa – enabling true development and transformation.
I also hope you finally tackle the problems that have hobbled soccer for so long – especially its self-interested, self-serving leaders. The football World Cup reminded us what a uniting factor sport – soccer – can be in our society, but leadership is needed to ensure the beautiful game in this country does not revert to the shambolic, chaotic, divisive mess of the past.
You also need to put the needs of our athletes and sportsmen and women above those of the people in charge of the various codes. Self-interest, corruption, mismanagement and nepotism have already hobbled athletics and are now in danger of affecting cricket, among others.
Creativity and innovation are also required in dealing with the World Cup stadiums – one of the most visible legacies of our successful tournament. Prove to the doomsayers that the stadiums were not an exercise in vanity and will not be a drain on the public purse in perpetuity – by leading the drive to make them profitable. Ensure they thrive as monuments to what pride, patriotism, hard work and nationalism can achieve.
Lastly, Mr Minister, you need to realise the government is merely the custodian of sport on behalf on the people. Sport and our teams belong to the public, not government – and that you endanger it with short-term expediency and politicking at the expense of long-term dedication and development. Please always act in the public interest, not in the ANC government’s.