Since my last message, a lot of activities have taken place under my watch, most notably training camps for the 4 national teams that are to take part in the qualifiers from August 2011 to March 2012.
I must admit that the recently concluded National Deaf Games has created a lot of awareness on South African Deaf Sports Federation (SADSF) amongst the Deaf community. Before that, many Deaf sport persons were confused as to who is really responsible for Deaf sport in South Africa. New organizations emerged from nowhere the past two years, claiming responsibility for Deaf sport in South Africa. These organizations were using the not-so-alert Deaf sport persons in order to build their profiles and market themselves within the broader Deaf communities. The sad part is that money seemed to be the main factor in using the desperate Deaf persons as some government departments were happy to give them the funds.
Let me take this opportunity to apologise to both Mpumalanga Deaf Sports Federation and Kwazulu/Natal Deaf Sports Federation for the mix up in the medal count for the National Deaf Games. The truth of the matter is that we discovered soon after the games that Mpumalanga, and not Kwazulu/Natal, was 3rd in the medal standing by virtue of their 3 gold medals, compared to Kwazulu/Natal’s 2 gold medals. The inconvenience caused to these two provinces is regrettable and I accept responsibility for the error. We have taken the necessary steps to remedy the situation.
On a positive note, I attended the first South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) as the President of SADSF and I managed to influence some policy decisions within the Transformation Commission of SASCOC for the benefit of Deaf sport in South Africa as we prepare for the much awaited National Sports Indaba to be held during the month of August.
SADSF was also invited to attend the Opening Ceremony of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Congress in Durban during the month of July.
Although there has not been an update regarding the 2013 Deaflympic qualifiers from Confederation of African Deaf Sports (CADS) since their official letter sent to us recently, we continue to prepare our teams for the task that lies ahead as we would not want to be taken by surprise. So far, so good and Ekurhuleni Municipality has agreed to host the first leg of the women’s volleyball and soccer qualifiers as well as the Group B men’s soccer qualifiers. We are receiving as much support and assistance as possible from SASCOC in preparation for the qualifiers.
The good thing about these qualifiers, most specifically for men’s soccer, is that the teams are made up of about 70% young athletes mainly from schools for the Deaf around the country. This augurs well for the future of sport in South Africa.
I would like to again emphasize the fact that development remains one of our key focus areas going forward and schools sport is important in ensuring that we achieve this. Of note is the fact that school sport is also the main focus area of the Sport and Recreation of SA (SRSA) and the Minister of Sport and Recreation – Mr. Fikile Mbalula, recently stated, and I quote: “Schools sport is very significant and it is our priority to revive it. Without schools sport, we are going nowhere in terms of talent identification and development. We are going to be very pro-active on schools sport and will ensure that pupils participate in different sporting codes. Best players will be selected in the national teams who will go for national camps.”
The 70% of young athletes making it to the national teams prove that SADSF is on course to implement exactly what the Minister of Sport has emphasized above.
On deployments, I have recently announced that Emily Mogotlhe has been appointed as General Manager on a full-time basis effective from January 2011. Further to that, we have seconded Mr. Thami Shabangu to head our development projects on a full-time basis effective from June 6 2011 and is stationed at the SADSF head office at Mandeville, Bez Valley. The deployment of Thami Shabangu to this position is very significant in that he will be dealing mainly with the development of provincial structures, national codes, establishment and/or support of various commissions within SADSF and also compile a database of Deaf sport persons in the entire country. Mr Shabangu will, however continue with his other responsibilities as chairperson of South African Deaf Football Association (SADFA) and Gauteng Deaf Sports Federation.
The International Committee of Sports for the Deaf (ICSD) Congress will be held in Italy later this year. A number of issues will be discussed, mainly the recently cancelled Winter Deaflympic Games that was scheduled to be held in Slovakia earlier this year. There are a lot of challenges currently facing ICSD, but no organization is without challenges and we are confident that ICSD will manage to overcome these challenges and become stronger, even though it will take some time to pull through.
I am encouraged by the fact that a number of clubs are emerging throughout the country and the fact that Gauteng Deaf Sports Federation continues to be pro-active in their attempts to keep these clubs active. Their initiative to hold monthly tournaments featuring local clubs is commendable and we urge other provinces to do the same. Platinum Deaf FC is a new club that was recently established in North West. The other initiative that North West Deaf Sports Federation came up with is the North West Deaf Academy for young soccer and netball players. I would like to see other provinces showing leadership by taking initiatives such as these.
You will remember the success of the soccer top 16 and netball top 12 held during August 2010 at the University of the Witwatersrand, formerly Johannesburg College of Education (JCE). Well, another project is in the pipeline and will be held from 5 to 9 August 2011 at a venue still to be decided. More details on this project will be announced shortly as the team working on it is busy working out finer details. Although I must caution that this project will be slightly different from the previous one and will be development-orientated.
I have taken note of the fact that more and more Deaf sport persons have opened facebook accounts and use it as a means to communicate important issues related to sport in particular. For those who have joined South African Deaf Sports Federation facebook group, please invite others to join as more information on Deaf sport activities will be posted on this group.