Sports minister offers cash support for Swimming South Africa
Written by Yazeed Kamaldien
Swimmers with financial woes had their burden lifted yesterday when the sports ministry offered to assist the cash-strapped athletes to compete in an upcoming tournament.
Fikile Mbalula, minister for sports and recreation, donated R2,7-million to Swimming South Africa yesterday in Cape Town. Mbalula said this cash would go towards assisting swimmers to compete in a global competition in Spain.
“We have an obligation to support federations when they compete internationally… That money is not adequate so we want corporate South Africa to come to the party,” said Mbalula.
“This funding is a stop-gap… This is for athletes who will participate in Barcelona (Spain)… We must support them.”
He added: “We invest in winners, not losers. We are champions.”
Mbalula said yesterday’s funds from the department should also “address issues of transformation” in swimming, “less we give credence to the belief that black people can’t swim.”
He reiterated that the sport and its governing body, Swimming SA, needed to attract funding from elsewhere too. He said this could come in the form of future local television broadcasting of swimming events and associated advertising.
“Nobody wants to fund something that is not on TV,” he said.
Jace Naidoo, president of Swimming SA, said they were preparing to send 90 athletes to compete in Barcelona. Water polo, synchronised swimming and diving were among the sports they would compete in.
Naidoo said their annual budget was up to R30-million to train 11 teams that compete in various aquatic sports globally.
“We have had challenges since returning from London (Olympics last year). This (sponsorship) goes a long way in supporting us,” said Naidoo.
“We have had to cut down a number of our programmes this year. We don’t have the resources to support that… Most funding still goes to cricket, rugby and soccer. It’s an international phenomenon that swimming struggles to get sponsorship.”