Transform Sport – Transform the Nation

The transformation of sport has become a battleground. This is a very far cry from what it should be and what it should contribute to the transformation and growth of our country. Those engaged in the war should take a long hard look at themselves, what their role is in the battle and what they can contribute to having peace breaking our all-around!

We venture into this domain with some trepidation and the hope that our contribution will be a contribution of hope and of positive suggestions.

The starting point in this debate should be to ask the question: How can sport create a non-violent, non-sexist, vibrant and healthy society and country at peace with itself. This must be one of the greatest things that sport is capable of doing. And we have seen this happen in our country in our own lifetimes, more than once!
But this cannot be achieved by focusing our efforts only on the national sides almost to the exclusion of anything else.

When great sporting teams build succession they do not start by focusing all their efforts and resources on the national side even as important as that is for the national psyche and sense of value. We can learn a great lesson from the All Blacks, the famous, iconic rugby side from New Zealand.

They repeat the mantra over and over again that they must not get ahead of themselves. They focus on humility. They focus on giving back and on encouraging the next generation of players. They build a culture of excellence at all levels and this culture, while it results in creating and sustaining successful teams, is not in and of itself focused on winning. It is focused on being the best that they can be in every element of what they as a team can be. This is the critical element.

South Africa needs to begin to build this type of culture. A culture where no stone is left unturned to convince people at all levels and of all persuasions that the teamness of South Africa is a precious and attainable goal which will benefit everyone in our country. This has to start with the leadership. How can it benefit anyone, and especially our kids, if they see the leadership bickering about everything while they do not have resources, nor coaches nor teachers that demonstrate to them that the adults who should be caring for them and developing them actually care?! This needs to be driven from the centre but delivered locally. We know that municipalities are mostly incapable of doing this but the sporting codes would love to take this on if they are given sufficient resources and support to do so.

Our diversity is a massive strength. It only becomes a weakness when politicians and others use it for negative, purely personal and selfish, self-centered interests. All fields of human endeavor benefit from the impact of diversity. All sports need diversity in every shape and form. This is not rocket science and while there are some sports that require really expensive equipment, most sports can commence with the most rudimentary facilities and as the sportsmen and-women progress up the scale better facilities and equipment become more easily affordable by the national bodies.

There is a great argument that should be applied to make sure that the facilities that do exist are shared as equitably as possible. This applies especially at school level where the disparities between those schools that have facilities and resources and those that don’t are simply eye-popping.

If the general standard in an area improves at all levels, everyone wins. Improving standards are good for everyone. Where facilities are reserved and protected inside a well-guarded enclave and only one entity becomes much stronger than the surrounding community then that entity is with certainty sowing the seeds of its own destruction! This is the kind of self-centeredness that breeds ill-will, resentment and dissension.

The opposite is true where there is an attitude of sharing, collaboration, mutual building and development. This approach helps to unite and knit communities in an atmosphere of collective learning and development. It stimulates, if you like, a culture of teamness!

South Africa is a country extremely short of skills and expertise. We have to make sure that we are utilising that which we have to the limit of its capabilities and to the benefit of everyone. Our aim should be to create a society that enjoys playing, much more than watching; enjoys contributing much more than taking; enjoys building and developing much more than tearing down; enjoys working together much more than dividing peoples; and one which is passionate about seeing our country succeed at every level and as a nation.

If we do these things sport will play the important and contributive role it can play in society to build goodwill and the joy of healthy competition. It will teach people at all levels that sustainable excellence can only be built from the bottom up and never from the top down.

August 1, 2016 | Article by Tony Frost (CEO Sirocco Strategy Group)

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