ANC & Ashwin Willemse debate transformation in sports

ANC & Ashwin Willemse debate transformation in sports

Issues of transformation in sports were laid out on the table during a discussion hosted by the African National Congress in the Western Cape on Tuesday.


Among those attending the discussion – which served as a celebration of former Springbok Ashwin Willemse’s book “Rugby Changed My World” – was ANCWC chairperson Marius Fransman, ANC leader in Cape Town Tony Ehrenreich, ANC member of provincial legislature Cameron Dugmore, former Springbok coach Peter de Villiers, and president of Western Cape Cricket Beresford Williams. Willemse was also part of the roundtable discussion.

“Because of your efforts, I got to play,” said Willemse to participants at the roundtable in Cape Town.

“When we talk about structures in our communities, about teachers who were willing to train us without getting paid for it, I benefitted from that.”

Willemse and the discussion participants agreed that in order to transform sports, they needed to “get back to basics”.

Part of achieving this was partnering sports, civil society, and government and using anti-apartheid methods such as organising an equivalent to the South African Council on Sports (SACOS).

“Back in the day we were organised,” said Dugmore, “it is about getting organised again.”

Dugmore suggested engaging with all teacher unions to negotiate dedicated sports educators as well as talking to both national and local government sports departments.

Willemse, and the other participants, called on leaders within sporting codes and former SACOS members to reestablish themselves at grassroots level.

“Perhaps we should look in the mirror and say, ‘maybe, just maybe, I can still make a difference’,” said Willemse.

Meanwhile, Fransman and Ehrenreich exchanged differing views on who should shoulder the blame for a lack of transformation.

“I believe the ANC has become a soft target for every issue,” said Fransman, responding to criticism directed at the ruling party.

“We get the blame for everything. But we have the backbone to take it.”

Ehrenreich, however, offered a contrasting view: “Sports and culture reflects what’s happening in society.”

“If we want to change, we need to change what leadership deems okay,” he said.

“We can’t leave fundamental societal issues up to politicians.”

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