TRANSFORMATION IN SPORT MOVING AT A SNAIL’S PACE
By: S’nenhlanhla Mnqayi
Sport is the glue that unites people of all races, gender and background. It is a tool we can use to build our country-a barometer to measure how far we have moved, and how much is needed to be done in order for us as South Africans to realise Mandela’s dream of a rainbow nation.
During the apartheid regime South Africa was banned from International Sport. This was a highly divisive issue. The system of ‘White supremacy’ was applied on the field. Other races did not even have the opportunity to play sport in other countries, or even given a chance to showcase their talents because whites were responsible for selecting the best sportsmen in different codes.
Non-white sportsmen had always opposed the enforcement of racial discrimination by the official sport bodies and countless appeals were made to all-white bodies to end apartheid in sport. Without exception, the administrators refused to relax the racial barrier and remained adamant in maintaining the colour bar.
In most cases they even refused to meet the representatives of non-racial sports bodies to discuss the problem. The only alternative that was left for the sportsmen who wished to replace racialised sport with open and non-racial sport ,was to make representation to the international sport federations and bodies.
These initiatives were first taken in the 1950’s.
The first sport to take action against South African racism was the International Table Tennis Board in 1956. The world’s governing body of table tennis revoked the all-white South African Table Tennis Union membership and proclaimed the multi-racial South African Table Tennis as the preferred. However, the government withdrew the passports of players belonging to the board, effectively preventing them from competing internationally.
They encouraged other sports to take similar initiatives. Football was suspended from Federation International Football Association (FIFA) in 1963, Stanley Rous, FIFA’s President, negotiated its reinstatement. The South African Football Association proposed entering an all-white team in the 1966 World Cup and an all-black team in the 1970 World Cup– the proposal was rejected.
Springbok rugby was excluded from the first two World Cups in 1987 and 1991.
The end of apartheid brought many surprises with the country’s hosting and winning of, the Rugby World Cup in 1995. This was a powerful boost to post-apartheid South Africa’s return to the international sporting scene. Our very own football team “Bafana Bafana” won the Africans Cup of Nations in 1996 and India ended its boycott in 1991 inviting the South African cricket team for an ODI Series and also allowing Indian Cricket to tour South Africa for Test and ODI Series in late 1992.
“As we are on the second decade of democracy sport transformation has been making gradual progress and there’s still much to be done”, said Andile Nkosi, a life-long sport fan.
With the proposal of ‘sport qoutas’ that was announced by the minister of Sport and Recreation Fikile Mbalula, there will be at least 40-60 representation in every national and provincial team favouring black players.
This system aims to eradicate racism in in order sport to build a rainbow nation and to have equal opportunities as the other players. Njabulo Mnqayi (30) stated “I believe the quota system will have a negative impact onto the dreams of the younger generation if implemented.
They would feel discriminated against. Where a child is not chosen because the team has to adhere to a quota system- that is a form of racial discrimination that impunes the dignity of the young people in our country.”
Transformation is an effort to provide equal opportunities for all the country’s sporting players, also to provide a fair chance of reaching their chosen profession, South Africa is slowly getting there but at the end, the improvement will be self-evident.