Sport and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula says that transformation needs to happen at the lower levels for South Africa’s national teams to field integrated sides.
Speaking at a business event in Johannesburg, Mbaula shared his views on a number of issues. The minister wants to stamp out corruption in sport and he also wants teams to be more representative of all South Africans.
The Springboks fielded just four players of colour in their match 22 for the 2011 World Cup quarter-final against Australia. It was a marginal improvement on the two players of colour that played in the 2007 decider in France, but was not enough to suggest that transformation is happening at an acceptable rate.
What has hampered the process is the lack of transformation at the lower levels. At Super Rugby and Currie Cup level the teams are still very white, and the coaches of those sides argue that too many black players fail to make the transition from amateur rugby to the professional realm, and that this is where the South Africa Rugby Union should be focusing their attention.
Mbalula agreed that transformation needs to happen at the lower levels before it can become a reality at the highest levels, otherwise we have a case of representation for the sake of representation, or window dressing.
‘Transformation is about integration, it is about education, and about uniting a nation,’ he said. ‘Quotas do not work for South Africa but it has been adopted at the Sport Indaba. I want by the end of the year that the national rugby team, the cricket team, every sport team, to be multiracial.’
The sports minister added that he had no problem with Saru appointing a white coach to replace Peter de Villiers. Some sectors consider it a backward step to replace De Villiers with somebody like Heyneke Meyer, the man set to take the job, but Mbalula said the colour of the coach was irrelevant.
‘It is not the colour that defines development. Even if you can put a black person to become coach, it depends on the material you have. We don’t want a racist social certification debate when the Springboks go overseas – how many blacks are there in the team?’
Meyer should be appointed as the next Bok coach at Saru’s offices on Friday 27 January.