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Ken Borland



Quotas are the fees CSA must pay for political support 0

Posted on April 14, 2017 by Ken

 

One way of thinking of quotas is as the fees sports bodies must pay to the minister of sport for political support, so the great news that Fikile Mbalula and his circus have been removed from sport creates a new dynamic.

Of course, rational sports fans and true patriots will be treating the appointment of Thulas Nxesi as the new minister of sport with some caution. Judging by his obfuscation of the Nkandla issue during his previous role as minister of public works, he seems to struggle with figures and the quota calculations used in cricket might be a challenge for him.

Ironically, Cricket South Africa actually presented a report on their transformation successes to parliament’s sports portfolio committee this week and they managed to meet their targets with a bit of wriggle room.

Over the last international season, the Proteas were meant to provide 161 playing opportunities for players of colour and 54 for Black Africans, and they have surpassed those quotas by a percentage point or two.

So the system seems to be working at international level and has been met with approval by coach Russell Domingo and the players, who are probably most grateful for the fact that they now know exactly where they stand.

But our domestic cricket is also vital as the feeder to the Proteas and the different system of quotas used here has certainly detracted from the quality of fare on offer. Not so much in terms of the players not being good enough to play at that level, but rather because of the imbalances caused by having a hard-and-fast rule of five Whites and six players of colour, three of which must be Black Africans.

The Momentum One-Day Cup final was played in Centurion on Friday between the Titans and the Warriors, an exact repeat of the CSA T20 Challenge final.

In the T20 final, the Warriors were unable to play their leading wicket-taker, Andrew Birch, because the quota and the need to balance the side dictated that either he or Kyle Abbott would play, but not both. Similarly, the Titans went into the 50-over final without two of their key players – leg-spinner Shaun von Berg, their most successful bowler, and all-rounder David Wiese, an international and potent force in limited-overs cricket. That’s due to the return from Proteas duty of Tabraiz Shamsi and Chris Morris.

To prevent these occurences, which clearly detract from the occasion of a final and bring the whole system into disrepute, why are the franchises not allowed a package deal just like the Proteas? Why can’t their transformation successes be measured as a total figure at the end of the season? Then playing their best team in a final is possible, as long as they have concentrated on ensuring they are ahead of the transformation curve in the regular season.

It’s funny how quickly solutions can be found when money is the issue. Cricket South Africa’s new T20 Global League has a focus on securing foreign investment and the sport’s governing body has realised that team owners are going to want to pick their teams strictly on merit, or else they will take their money elsewhere.

And so it seems there will be no quotas or transformation targets in that competition. Moral principles and the need to redress the past have all suddenly flown out the window because of money. But CSA would certainly be speaking the same language as Mbalula and his successor Nxesi in that regard.

Are our national team or our professional franchises so unimportant that they don’t deserve the same consideration?

Pass The Buck – A sporting area Mbalula excels in 0

Posted on April 30, 2016 by Ken

 

If there’s one area of sport that Fikile Mbalula, the Minister of Razzmatazz and Grand Gestures Without Any Substance, is probably an expert in it would be the art of passing, even if his distribution skills are rather one-dimensional.

Mbalula produced one of the most dramatic Passing The Buck moves ever seen in South African sport this week; sadly his distribution skills are strictly limited to dishing out blame rather than what he should be providing, which is governmental impetus to efforts to provide greater opportunities for the disadvantaged.

We must never forget that Mbalula is at heart a politician, not a sports lover, but even by those low standards his actions this week have been extremely cynical. If Richie McCaw had done something as cynical in the All Blacks’ 22, even a New Zealand referee would have yellow-carded him.

I want to make it clear that I fully support transformation and a sport like rugby clearly still has a long way to go if the Springboks are to field a team that is even close to being fully representative of the nation. Cricket have tried exceptionally hard in terms of transformation but have also made some blunders.

I also agree that just continually warning slow-moving sports administered by dinosaurs is not the way to go.

But the kind of mass social engineering that Mbalula is wanting – teams that are just 9% White – can only be achieved by government.

Last year, when the Springboks and Proteas were involved in world cups, Mbalula was right behind those teams, quite happy to gloss over their obvious failings when it came to transformation, even after their failed campaigns. Perhaps he didn’t want to appear rude for all the VIP treatment rugby and cricket have lavished upon the notorious party animal.

But now the ANC is set to lose many votes in the elections later this year so a grand gesture is needed, something to distract, something to shift the pressure elsewhere, and Mbalula is the master of that.

After Mbalula agreed to become the sports minister, allegedly at the behest of the Guptas, in 2010, he said all the right things about how he was going to make sure transformation was focused at grassroots level and how national teams were the wrong place to intervene.

I liked and supported Mbalula for the first couple of years, until I started wondering “When is he actually going to do any of this great stuff he’s promising?” however entertaining his often baffling press conferences were.

As some of my Black colleagues in the media have pointed out, Mbalula has failed to produce one meaningful transformation project in the six years he’s been in office. His tenure will be remembered for grandiose speeches, his fawning over Floyd Mayweather and Beyonce, and the millions he has spent on dismal awards banquets. By one calculation, he spent four times the Olympics budget for the South African team.

The current situation in which our predominantly White sports only choose their Black African players from a few select schools is not going to change unless government is willing to commit the millions of rands that sports bodies don’t have into building facilities in the townships, never mind rural areas.

If you are going to bring a sport to the masses, then the facilities have to be there to match the opportunity.

But that would involve actual work and, heaven forbid, Mbalula might have to skip the odd glitzy party with all its selfie opportunities.

Sure, many South African sports deserve censure for their maladministration and slowness to transform, but when is Mbalula going to take responsibility for his utter failure to produce anything worthwhile in his capacity as Minister of Sport?

 

What to do with our bunch of U19 losers? 0

Posted on February 15, 2016 by Ken

 

 

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula will no doubt call them “a bunch of losers”, while many cricket followers, judging by the comments I’ve seen, would want even harsher punishment meted out to the South African U19 team after their dismal display in the ICC junior world cup.

I would normally feel sorry for a group of young men with such expectation heaped on their shoulders to go and perform in a strange land like Bangladesh, especially since their predecessors, the special team led by Ray Jennings, Aiden Markram and Kagiso Rabada, claimed the title in the last tournament two years ago.

But when any South African team loses to Namibia and someone close to the squad slams them for their arrogance and lack of discipline and accuses some of them of just wanting to bolster their CVs before heading overseas, then I begin to wonder whether being charitable is the right response or should they face the music?

Coach Lawrence Mahatlane has come in for brutal criticism, but then he is an easy target. Being Black African, his appointment was immediately greeted with a chorus of “quota appointment”; having not played first-class cricket also counted against him.

I have had many private discussions about cricket with Mahatlane and, in fact, I have played in teams coached by him. Although the level of play and the pressures were obviously vastly different, I can assure sceptics that Mahatlane is as passionate about the game as anyone, including Jennings, and is immensely knowledgeable.

From what I have heard in private from people surrounding the squad, Mahatlane may have been on a hiding to nothing. The health of our U19 cricket always fluctuates, there has been a cycle of great sides and more mediocre ones for decades.

But while one can forgive players for maybe not having as much talent as some of their predecessors, there is absolutely no excuse for a lack of work ethic nor for an attitude that suggests “we have already made it”.

I would describe Mahatlane as someone who cares for his players, but perhaps, behind the scenes, they did not have the necessary respect for their coach, for whatever reason, be it his skin colour or his lack of a playing record.

Jennings was a master of getting such destructive attitudes out in the open and removing them from the set-up, but he also boasted healthy experience as a coach.

With the shocking results of the U19 team coming at the same time as the senior side were struggling against England, alarming questions bordering on panic were asked about the health of the game in South Africa in general.

We should take care not to lose sight of the bigger picture and the context in which these results have occurred. There is an awful amount of negativity feeding into cricket at the moment and this was undoubtedly partly to blame for the disaster in Bangladesh. If players already have it in their heads to emigrate and play for another country, how is the team going to perform, no matter how inspiring the management was?

For those blaming quotas, there was only a pair of Black African players in the loss to Namibia.

To counter-balance that, Namibia played in the CocaCola Khaya Majola Week – the U19 interprovincial – and their performance was underwhelming. They beat Limpopo and North-West on first innings, but lost to Western Province and Northern Cape and were thrashed by 192 runs by Easterns.

Those results perhaps show that there was something seriously wrong with the selection of the national U19 team.

Mahatlane’s position is probably untenable but I hope a place is found for him somewhere else in the pipeline because he has a lot to offer. In the meantime, South Africa have lost a top-class coach in Pierre de Bruyn, who would have been an ideal fit for the Junior Proteas, but is off to take up a lucrative contract in county cricket.

As Mahatlane pointed out, though, one of the key facets of U19 cricket is learning and improving as players, and hopefully the current South African squad has learnt some brutal lessons.

 

 

 

 

 

Sam makes trumpet call against bloated sports department 0

Posted on May 18, 2015 by Ken

 

Sascoc president Gideon Sam has made a trumpet call for Minister of Sport Fikile Mbalula to forge a more efficient administration in the fight for sporting transformation.

Sam, speaking at the Highveld Lions awards dinner this week, said Mbalula was presiding over a bloated administration that was deflecting money away from the effort to clear “historical backlogs” in sport.

“The minister of sport has a very small budget, hardly a billion rand, and that’s for his administration too. Each minister of sport inherits a huge staff and, because of the power of the unions, he dare not touch that staff. I compare it to Sascoc and I wonder why there are so many people in the department of sport and recreation? It has to be asked. It’s very hard for the minister to work people out and usually he brings in more of his own people as well.

“Politicians want to use sport for ‘social cohesion’, but that phrase is not in my dictionary. How can sport, which is so impoverished, do that? The truth is, if you really go into it, South African sport is not structured correctly. We’re not giving impoverished sportspeople, black and white, a fair chance,” Sam said.

Sam suggested the debate over World Cup selection was “deliberate, to try and throw stones at the administration and it takes us nowhere”, but he did acknowledge that there was growing frustration at much of the bureaucracy that surrounds transformation and funding.

“The federations apply, they fill in all those forms and they don’t even get an acknowledgement so they get fed up with the battle. Why should they concern themselves with transformation policy when they have to foot the bill themselves?”

The Sascoc president said the club player who could “afford a plane ticket and the price of accommodation in a hotel” was always going to make a team ahead of competitors who could not afford to travel to tournaments.

 



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