Conversations around transformation and racism have rightfully made their periodic come back on various agendas in the sporting fraternity. These issues have highlighted that South Africa is still a divided country in which huge disparities still exist. Creating a situation where those that need the facilities and opportunities the most are unable to access them.
“Sport can play an important role in addressing issues of inequality and social cohesion, but it must be done in a deliberate and planned way,” said Donny Jurgens, Acting President of South African Gymnastics Federation (SAGF).
Through the years, gymnastics has made great strides in its attempt to address imbalances. Gymnastics is not a sport for the elite but a sport for everyone. SAGF has managed to take gymnastics to many schools and previously disadvantaged communities. We have established 12 fully equipped gymnastics hubs in all nine provinces and produced numerous champions from townships in all the disciplines. This proves that there is an untapped reservoir of talent within communities.
Despite the strides the sport and federation have made over the years, there are however still many gaps and challenges that need to be addressed. There are still many areas that require serious transformation.
“We cannot turn a blind eye to these challenges. Quite simply put, we need more black club owners, more black coaches, black judges and black leaders,” said Jurgens.
Another key challenge is changing attitudes and mindsets. As the ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign demonstrates, there is still much division and inequity in sport. There is no doubt, as in many other sports, that racism may rear its ugly head.
“We have a responsibility to tackle racism head on. But we can do this in a positive way, we can use gymnastics as a tool to build bridges in our country, to break down barriers and promote social cohesion,” Jurgens continued.
Over the next few weeks and months, starting on Wednesday, 22 July 2020, SAGF will be hosting a series of online engagements on Transformation and Development. The ultimate objective of these engagements is for each province, district and discipline to develop a concrete plan of action with deadlines and dedicated resources.
The engagements will be in three phases, with three different time slots to choose from:
- Phase 1: Understanding Transformation and Development. Identifying the gaps, challenges and issues.
- Phase 2: Developing innovative solutions to Transformation and Development challenges.
- Phase 3: Action planning per Province, District and Disciplines in gymnastics.
These workshops will be facilitated by Jurgens.
“We need people from all our provinces and all our disciplines to put up their hands and agree to put their shoulder to the wheel to change the face of gymnastics in South Africa,” he appealed.
These online workshops are open to all members who would like to play a role in addressing these issues as the workshops aim to come up with innovative but effective and sustainable actions. There will be a period of engagement as well as monthly meetings to monitor implementation and provide further support.
With editing by gsport