2011 has been a roller coaster year for South African Deaf Sports Federation (SADSF). I have mixed feelings in the manner in which our objectives for a year have been accomplished, there were successes, there were failures and most of all there has been improvements compared to the previous year.
Administration – as most of you are aware, SADSF office relocated to Johannesburg at the start of 2011 and during the course of the year, 2 full-time personnel were recruited to head marketing and development initiatives respectively. However, plans for these recruitments did not go the way we envisaged. One personnel was released and the other resigned.
Because we wanted to keep the office operational despite the setback, we moved swiftly and appointed an administrative officer to administrate the affairs of the SADSF. Amantle Makhutle was appointed effective from 24 October 2011. She is an ex-pupil at St Vincent School for the Deaf and has previously worked at eDeaf – a Deaf owned Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) company based in Johannesburg. SADSF Executive Board felt that a Deaf person who communicates in Sign Language should be empowered to run the office, instead of a hearing person who knows no Sign Language. We have no doubt that Amantle is the right person for the job and despite her limited knowledge of Deaf sport, she is continually learning on a daily basis and will be an asset to SADSF in the long run if given a chance. We appeal to all our members to cooperate with and give her all the support she would need going forward.
Main projects during 2011 included the National Deaf Games in Potchefstroom and the National Club Development Tournament in Johannesburg. Both these events have certainly raised our profile as SADSF and we envisage more of these in 2012.
Soccer – SADSF successfully hosted the Group B Deaflympic qualifiers in partnership with the City of Ekurhuleni where Egypt, the powerhouse of African football took on our National team. South Africa was beaten 3-0 by the determined Egyptians and, as a result, lost out on the qualification for the 2013 Deaflympic Games to be hosted by Hungary. Egypt wanted it more and they won fair and square. On behalf of the SADSF Executive Board, I wish to congratulate Egypt for qualifying for the 2013 Deaflympics and wish them success in Budapest, Hungary.
I must, however, caution that the state of Deaf football in the country needs a complete overhaul. With the resources available in the country, we should have easily qualified for the 2013 Deaflympic Games. Let us take a look at the whole state of football in South Africa, not just Deaf football:
* The Senior National team (Bafana Bafana) failed to qualify for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations; * The Under 23 side failed to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics, going down 2-0 to the Egyptian side in the group stages; * The Under 20 side were booted out of the COSAFA Youth Championships in the group stages, going down 5- 1 to the Zambians. The Under 20 side were booted out of the COSAFA Youth Championships in the group stages, going down 5-1 to the Zambians.
So, looking at the results above, we should accept that the whole football in the country is in disarray, not only Deaf football. We, however, need to do something about this, the sooner the better.
Patrick Kokwane, South African Deaf Football Association (SADFA) National Coordinator, has presented the idea of a Deaf Soccer League, with the project being piloted in Gauteng in 2012 before it goes national. I support the idea as it will help in strengthening Deaf football in the long run. South African Football Association (SAFA) has assured us that they will support Deaf football from now on and thus Patrick should be supported by all Deaf Football Clubs as he tries to improve the standard of Deaf football going forward. People with such initiatives should be commended and supported.
Fortunately, our women’s soccer team have qualified for the 2013 Deaflympic Games and this means the resources in 2012 will be reserved mainly for the strengthening of the women’s national team in preparation for the 2013 Deaflympic Games. Ironically our hearing counterparts, Banyana Banyana, have qualified for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Volleyball – we have officially withdrawn both men and women volleyball teams for the 2012 World Deaf Volleyball Championships to be held in Bulgaria. The reasons are both financial and the fact that we will not be able to send a competitive team to the tournament. We should rather look at a long-term development of volleyball in preparation for the 2013 Deaflympic Games where the Women’s team have officially qualified. We cannot continue to send weak teams to international competitions and continue being an embarrassment to the world. We need to contest for medals, just as other countries are doing. To do that, we need to look at our development structures first and foremost.
Basketball – the National Sports Council adopted basketball as a new code for SADSF. This means our focus in 2012 will be on the development of this code. We will introduce it gradually in schools, work with Basketball South Africa and include it as one of the codes for the 2012 National Deaf Games.
Ten Pin Bowling – the National Sports Council has adopted Ten Pin Bowling as the new code for SADSF. Although the development of this sport is a bit complicated, we will investigate the best possible ways to develop it and will do so in 2012.
2012 National Deaf Games – Mpumalanga will host the 2012 National Deaf Games in Nelspruit. Derrick Peete, SADSF Vice President and myself had a meeting with the Deputy Director of the Mpumalanga Department of Sport and Recreation at the National Sports Indaba in Midrand. He has assured us that his Department will host the Games from 9 to 12 August 2012. All that we need to do now is to send an official letter of request to the Department so that work can start. We decided to abandon Kwazulu/Natal because of the many internal problems between Kwazulu/Natal Deaf Sports Federation and Disability Sport Kwazulu/Natal. With the current challenges in that province, there was no way they could host a successful event of this magnitude.
Conclusion, our office will close on the 15th of December 2011 and re-open on the 9th of January 2012. On behalf of the SADSF Executive Board, I wish all our members, friends and supporters a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous 2012. It has been great working with you all and we hope to continue the journey together in 2012.