INFORMATION SERVICES: RESEARCH
ANALYSIS OF A REPORT ON A STUDY TOUR OF THE NORTHWEST BY THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON SPORT AND RECREATION, 18 - 19 AUGUST 2003
A delegation representing the Portfolio Committee on Sport and Recreation visited the NorthWest Province in order to assess the progress that has been made in the sporting sector by the province. In order to understand the problems and challenges experienced by sport councils, municipalities and schools, the Committee intended to focus on the following aspects:
- School sport, especially schools with special needs.
- The accessibility and usability of facilities.
- The existence of sport structures on the ground.
- The establishment of sport academies.
- An assessment of the needs of schools and local sports clubs through an examination of the usability of sports facilities located in former colleges of education.
- Interaction with district councils aimed at finding out whether existing facilities are open for multipurpose use.
A number of meetings were held with provincial officials as well as officials from local authorities. In addition, the following facilities were visited:
- Depot Community Hall
- Taung Stadium (still under construction)
- Bapong Stadium
It was found that there are some positive aspects to the province’s sport programme. For example,
- There is a Sports Academy that offers training in netball and soccer, as well as a number of teachers who are trained in gymnastics.
- Volunteers from communities and from the teaching fraternity are assisting athletes with training.
In specific areas in the province, some of the positive elements include the following:
- There are a number of active sporting codes in the Taung Municipality, e.g. soccer, athletics and netball.
- The best-developed facilities in Taung appear to be for soccer.
- Sporting codes such as dance and gymnastics are popular in the Mafikeng Municipality.
Notwithstanding the positive elements detailed above, numerous challenges and difficulties face the province, including:
- The provincial Sport and Recreation Department is severely under-funded. As a result, problems such as inadequate facilities, the maintenance and upgrading of facilities, and the prevention of vandalism cannot properly be addressed.
- In a province where vast distances separate communities, reaching the nearest sporting facilities (such as swimming pools), constitutes a major problem for many athletes.
- There does not appear to be a co-operative relationship between communities and sports officials.
- Historically disadvantaged areas and particularly the rural areas are neglected. As a result, facilities are minimal and no sporting codes are active in the rural areas.
- The widespread problems of poverty and unemployment negatively impact upon the ability of communities to pay transport costs to reach distantly-located sporting facilities and to participate in competitions. Poverty also prevents talented young athletes from being healthy enough to reach their potential.
- Formerly white areas continue to be better-resourced. It therefore appears that the provision and standard of sporting facilities continue to be divided along racial lines.
- Historically disadvantaged schools continue to be under-resourced, as is evident in the gap between formerly white schools and public schools. It therefore appears that the provision and standard of sporting facilities continue to be divided along racial lines.
- There are no Colleges of Education in the region, and the University that is located there, does not have sports fields.
- Community support is difficult to obtain due to widespread socio-economic problems.
- The trend towards the privatisation and leasing of sport facilities negatively impacts upon community access to sport facilities. Communities are either prevented from using sporting facilities or are otherwise unable to pay the high entry fees required. The issue of fee payment as an obstacle to community use also applies to community halls.
- Racism is still a problem in the province and it also manifests itself in sport.
- As a result of these shortcomings, the wealth of talent in the province remains under-developed.
In specific areas in the province, some of the problems include the following:
- The facilities at the Depot Community Hall have been vandalised and need to be repaired.
- The Taung Municipality has no basic sporting facilities – the nearest such facilities (such as a swimming pool) are situated some distance away.
- The Mafikeng Municipality is under-resourced with regard to sporting facilities.
- The Montsiwa Stadium cannot currently be utilised as the renovation is incomplete due to lack of funding and problems with the contractor.
- Communities find it difficult to access sporting facilities in Bapong in the Madibeng Municipality as the payment of a fee is required.
- There also appear to be problems between the provincial government and the Madibeng Municipality, This is having a negative impact on the use of funding for the development of facilities.
The study tour has identified some positive elements in the province’s sport and recreation programme, such as the existence of several active sporting codes. However, the successes appear to be outweighed by the problems and challenges that remain. One of the most important problems faced by the province, is the fact that it does not receive sufficient funding for sport and recreation. This inevitably has a negative impact on the usability and accessibility of sports facilities, particularly in historically disadvantaged communities. Lack of funding also impacts directly on the ability of local authorities to maintain facilities and grounds and prevent vandalism.
The study tour report has found that many of the best sporting facilities are still located in formerly white areas, usually out of reach of the communities most in need of them. Since most of the latter communities are poor and have high rates of unemployment, they do not have the resources (private transport, financial resources) to reach these facilities. In most cases, public transport is expensive, often unsafe and not available during the required hours. The trend towards the privatisation and leasing of public sporting facilities places additional obstacles in the path of community participation in sport and further impacts on the usability of facilities. Added to these obstacles is that of the vast distances between communities (and hence of sporting facilities), making the need for athletes to travel, virtually a necessity.
The provision and standard of sporting facilities and equipment in historically disadvantaged schools (especially in the rural areas) continue to be inadequate. It also appears that this inequality continues to be divided along racial lines, as is evident in the gap between the sporting standards of formerly white schools and public schools. No information was provided with regard to LSEN (Learner with Special Needs) schools. The lack of progress with regard to school sport is cause for concern, not only because of its retarding effect on transformation in sport, but also because of its effect on the usability of school facilities by a broader spectrum of the public.
It has not been possible to make accurate findings about the usability and accessibility of community sports facilities to the disabled, as no information was provided in this regard. Nor was any information provided about their levels of participation in sport. However, given the lack of adequate facilities in historically disadvantaged areas, it may be assumed that these either do not exist, or are also inadequate. The same situation holds true for women and girls.
- There appears to be continuing racial division in the provision and standard of sporting facilities - for example, in the difference in facilities in the former white areas and that in most historically disadvantaged, particularly rural areas. How may the Committee assist the province in overcoming the legacy of the past?
- No information on the availability and accessibility of sports facilities to the disabled, or to women and girls in the province was obtained. For an accurate picture to emerge, it is essential that information with regard to facilities, equipment, the extent of participation and of the difficulties experienced, be provided. How may the Committee ensure that more comprehensive information is gathered on future study tours?
- There appear to be problems with regard to lack of co-operation among communities, sports officials, provincial government and local council, that are having a negative impact on the development of sport in the province. How may the Committee assist in ensuring co-operation among all the role-players?
- A suggestion has been made that in the rural areas, traditional authorities should also be responsible for the provision of facilities. Is this a viable way forward, or will there be problems with regard to the provision of facilities for women and girls? Could there also potentially be problems in giving responsibility to a non-elected power structure?
- The negative effects of privatisation on community participation in sport were highlighted in the report. How may the Committee assist in reversing this trend?
- The lack of progress in the transformation of school sport remains a cause for concern, as lack of progress in this regard will hamper the transformation in sport in general. How may the Committee assist in addressing the obstacles to progress in school sport?
- An important obstacle to sporting progress, is the lack of funds at both the local and provincial level. This affects not only the provision and maintenance of sports facilities, but also prevents the problem of vandalism from being effectively dealt with. How may the Committee assist in addressing this problem?
- Problems such as distance from sporting facilities, inadequate public transport and poverty prevent the use of many such facilities. How may communities be assisted with their transport needs?
- Racism is a real problem in the province and is also manifested in sport. How may this stumbling block to progress in sport dealt with?
- The province has so many talented youngsters with little hope of reaching their potential. How may they be helped?
Report on a Study Tour of the Northwest by Delegates from the Portfolio Committee on Sport and Recreation, 18 – 19 August 2003.
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