#Article (Archive)

Advancement of Sports Requires Major Changes

Jul 15, 2009, 10:35 AM

If the recent national sports conference had any significance at all, it would be the recommendations to address the apparently dismal failures of the first plan period 2000 - 2008. Whether the recommendations are taken on board is the question, but certainly the Conference was strongly and unanimously behind reviewing the issues of implementation and effective coordination, two areas that bogged down the progress and success of the first plan period.

According to the Conference, the problem was not the policy document, as earlier believed by many. The Conference subsequently saw otherwise, and instead targeted problems of coordination, implementation, performance of the National Sports Council, the Department of Sports, and the Ministry, and also the financing of Sports. It has been noted that the policy document is very comprehensive, but comprehensiveness itself is important because such a document is expected to cover all areas and all aspects of sports without exception. The rest is left to the implementers and coordinators. We should have the idea that this master policy document cannot be implemented all at once. Rather, we should prioritize and select limited parcels and packages at a time, based on priorities as well as our financial strength and capabilities.

It would be too much optimism, if not self-delusion, to expect full execution of the plan of Action within a short space of time, and given the scarcity of funds. However, we should still try to address the major stumbling blocks that impede progress of any kind.

Therefore we agree with the Conference that workable and efficient structures should be put in place.

The National Sports Council and Department of Sports should be strengthened through capacity building, to enable them to deliver both proficiently and efficiently, as the engines that drive the whole policy. If these institutions are either dormant or inefficient nothing appreciable for sports development can be realized. Secondly we appreciate the position that the structures should be reviewed and streamlined for peak performance. No room should be allowed for deadwood and redundant structures. In this respect one can appreciate the position of some, that the Ministry itself should be closed and their facilitating role returned to their original parent Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports. This is prudent because all that has been expected of the ministry since the launching of policy is the role of facilitator, that is, merely helping the associations, the NSC and the Department to find and acquire the resources and means needed for the achievement of goals under the policy. This is a simple and straightforward task. Furthermore, the problem we are now facing about the Ministry of Education not cooperating in the sports policy by developing sports in the schools, would then be finally solved, because school sports would definitively fall under their purview.

Thirdly, all efforts should be made to avail adequate finances for the successful implementation of the policy and plan of Action.

Without adequate investment Sports will never develop let alone prosper. This should be well noted, as evidences in other countries have amply demonstrated this.

Finally the sports policy and programme should be kept under constant review to ensure we know where we are going, and how.

"Sports strips away personality, letting the white bone of character shine through"

Rita Mae Brown