Making the EC SA’s sport capital

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On Thursday 4 July, the MEC for the Department of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture (DSRAC), Fezeka Bayeni, addressed the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature, detailing the 2019/20 MEC Policy updates for the coming year. In her speech, Bayeni set out the plans, goals and budgets for the Eastern Cape DSRAC, as well as detailed to what extent each of the various aspects of the department will be focused on the coming months.

While the majority of her address was focused on arts, culture and heritage, she also made clear the Department’s goals for Eastern Cape sport before the end of 2020. In the address, Bayeni claimed that the Department will focus on community involvement in sport, by promoting district-level sport organisations and programmes.

Bayeni stated that this will be done by:

  • Creating a Provincial Multi-stakeholder Sport and Recreation Network, in collaboration with the EC Sport Confederation (ECSC), other government departments, municipalities, non-governmental organisations and other agencies that use sport in advancing their objectives. The platform will be used to enrich the development and implementation of the Sport and Recreation Strategic Plans and also advise on sport and recreation policies.
  • Organising and host a Sport and Recreation Summit to evaluate the performance of the 5th term and introduce new initiatives.
  • Assigning the ECSC to support the development of the EC Provincial Sport Network, and designate sport champion(s) at the District office level to encourage, develop and monitor community-based sport programming based on the Departmental monitoring and evaluation model or framework.
  • Providing sports groups that endorse a strategy with operational support and access to facilities and services. This will be demonstrated through the implementation of Long-Term Athletes Development (LTAD) principles, true sport values, safe and welcoming environments, certification of coaches, and other standards to be defined through Provincial Sport Network consultations.

The department says they will also increase the capacity and capability of existing sports clubs, schools, associations, Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges and universities by assisting them with training, planning and education of administrators. This will be done to ensure the province can develop athletes and administrators in a sustainable and affordable manner, but also to ensure that the athletes coming out of the Eastern Cape are capable of competing on the international level. However, the MEC was not clear on how this will be done, only that the Department will make this a priority.

In terms of individual successes for outstanding athletes, Bayeni stated that DSRAC will affirm the role of the Eastern Cape Academy of Sport (ECAS), and make use of their facilities and administrators to ensure the continued development of elite athletes. They will also lean heavily on existing sports facilities such as those found in universities and TVET colleges to form “centres of excellence”. Additionally, relationships with other provincial high performances centres will be prioritised by DSRAC, to ensure that Eastern Cape Athletes receive the best development possible.

The Department also recognised the need for the creation and maintenance of more and better facilities, and so they will be working with COGTA (Co-Operative Governance and Traditional Affairs) and Human Settlements to develop long-term strategies to ensure that the Eastern Cape aligns with the National Sport Plan, and maximises the accessibility of sporting facilities. They will also ensure that the existing facilities are used to their full capacity where possible.

Bayeni claimed that all of this would be to promote the Eastern Cape as the “Sporting Capital” of South Africa. She stated that, “The Department will galvanise concerted efforts of marketing EC as the “Home of legends” whilst at the same time we maintain the stature of being a “Mecca of Boxing”. We will further ensure that milestones that are worth to be celebrated, e.g. centenarians, are embraced by all so as to preserve Province’s heritage.”

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Young and up-and-coming sports reporter with a passion for rugby and cricket. Born and raised in Boksburg, Gauteng, I came to Grahamstown (Makhanda) to learn the journalism trade, and improve all round.

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