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Good people, Africa's future is in our hands

By Fikile Mbaulula - SPORTS INDABA | 2012-02-22 06:40:22.0

"I make bold to pose to you a question I believe you have to answer in terms of your practical actions as a centre of learning, teaching, research and uninhibited intellectual inquiry and expansion of the frontiers of knowledge - what shall we, the Africans, do, regardless of the continent of our abode, to ensure that tomorrow belongs to us!"

I decided to steal this quote from former president Thabo Mbeki when he presented the 8th Memorial Lecture of Dullah Omar at the University of Western Cape recently.

South Africa and the rest of the continent has a major and significant role they must play in order to position Africa as one of the major role-players in the sporting arena. Football continues to be the No1 sport on the continent, and be that as it may, the issue of the second spot in terms of our continent is important. If our football is positioned above all sporting codes, a need to assess ourselves as a continent is important. Are we exporting talent that will in turn invest back to this continent's youth?

How do we then as a continent position our leagues to be more attractive like other countries on other continents? When the Zambian team lifted the 2012 African glory, in honour of those that departed on that plane crash in 1993, that team was a mixture of different footballing leagues in the world, including players that donned SA PSL jerseys. We need to export and at the same time hold on to our talent by investing in it.

Gentle people, the African continent's tomorrow is in our hands, as boldly challenged to the researchers and academia, the sporting community has a role, in ensuring Africa, identifies important codes that can safely guarantee us medals on the world stage. In football, we had memorable events where our teams proceeded to to the quarter and semifinals, and we celebrated them. But, what is of utmost importance is an African team reaching the World Cup final and lifting the trophy. That is a huge challenge indeed, but what shall we, the Africans, do, regardless of the continent of our abode, to ensure tomorrow belongs to all of us.

In Kenya, for instance, road running is their major strength and for Africa to be among the best in the world we need to invest more in that arena and ensure the Kenyans play a critical role in Africa's success in road running. It is a perfect picture wherein on the roads leading the pack, you have a Kenyan, Zimbabwean, a South African fighting for a photo finish. These through the help of the Kenyans.

Yes, the same with rugby, with South Africans investing more in ensuring the game is developed on the continent, and we have on the international stage, African countries doing more for the tomorrow that belongs to us.

In terms of netball in Malawi and South Africa, again, we have to ensure that our investment and utilisation of the talent and experience brings more fruit for the continent.

Currently we have seen the National Basketball Association extending their hand of development in other continents through their Basketball Without Borders initiative, which has seen some of our youngsters playing competitive sport in the US. We are glad and welcome the investment from the Royal Bafokeng Nation and His Excellency Kgosi Leruo Molotlegi in making sure the school sport programme, especially in basketball, will in the future produce our best basketball products, in our quest where we say, "regardless of the continent of our abode, to ensure that tomorrow belongs to us!"

As a continent, let's prioritise codes we can proudly say "guarantee us medals". During the Commonwealth Games recently, India taught us, let's do an international scan and see where we have strengths that the world does not have . India imported expertise in various fields where their scan told them you are guaranteed to bring in medals if you invest more resources .

Africa knows its strength and understands its shortcomings, but tomorrow cannot suffer because of the past. It is the responsibility of today to ensure tomorrow belongs to all of us, the nations of the world. Africans can compete among themselves, yes, but what is of utmost importance is that we ensure African countries are counted during medal presentations, in almost all codes.

The London Olympics are around the corner. Our focus is clear that Africa must perform well. The SA hockey team needs our support as they try harder to qualify. Again, as we boldly say "tomorrow belongs to us!" the codes cannot do this with only political support, as business plays a very important role. These key ingredients of success lie in our hands.

  • Mbalula is Minister of Sport and Recreation