A 23-page contract from Sport and Recreation South Africa (SRSA) (the erstwhile Department of Sport) recently landed on my desk. It has to be one of the worst drafted contracts I’ve seen in my 15 years in the industry.
Here’s just one sample: The first page of the contract defines “events” as sports and other events “in South Africa”. Four pages later, there is a second attempt at defining “events”, this time describing it as sports and other events “in South Africa and abroad”. And so it goes on.
The contract is supposed to be signed by a very high ranking official at SRSA. A quick look at his/her CV on a government website reveals that he/she has absolutely zero experience in any form of sport administration. Even my high hopes that he/she might at least have played marbles at provincial level were squashed. Not even a mention of a sport he/she likes to watch or participate in socially. In fact, looking at his/her CV (National Youth Development Agency, COSAS, Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa, etc., etc.) you might well wonder “does he/she even like sport”.
My thoughts then turned to our beloved game of cricket, in the hope that I’d find more sport acumen at the helm of Cricket South Africa (CSA). The board of CSA consists of seven non-independent and five independent members. Between the fourteen of them there is the grand record of two first-class games, both played by one member!
Compare this to the current board of Cricket Australia who count recent international players Mark Taylor and Michael Kasprowicz as members. The ECB board has two former international cricketers and three other members who have played first-class cricket.
I’m not for one moment suggesting that someone who has never played cricket (or any other sport for that matter) at the highest level cannot be a top administrator. There are indeed many such examples around the world. But two have a board with a grand total of two first-class games cannot be right. Surely there must be someone out there with a cricket pedigree good enough to sit on the CSA board.
Virtually the same pattern repeats itself in our rugby. A quick glance at the websites of the four British home unions (England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland) reveals that all their current presidents have had distinguished rugby careers. I haven’t looked at the composition of the rest of their boards but I’ll put my head on a block you’ll find even more rugby experience among them. The point is: They are rugby men through and through. Unfortunately the same cannot be said of the board of the South African Rugby Union (SARU).
How can we take sport forward in this country if you have boards at CSA and SARU with virtually zero playing acumen and a national sports department that doesn’t know the difference between a South African and overseas sports event?