left in the lurch

Alfred Moselakgomo

Alfred Moselakgomo

The future of about 50 aspiring swimmers from Mpumalanga could be in jeopardy after the national Department of Arts, Sport and Recreation withdrew its funding for the National Schools Swimming Championships.

The department "unceremoniously withdrew" its support for the event last week, a few days before it was due to take place.

Local business-people were then asked to donate to the team, which needed at least R42000 for transport alone for the trip to East London.

The competition took place in East London at the weekend.

The department allegedly did not budget for schools sport this year, though a commitment had been made to support the event.

At least 43 high school swimmers managed to get transport to East London, including accommodation.

"In the light of the department's decision not to support our swimmers, the possibility exists that in future Mpumalanga will not be represented at the championships," Democratic Alliance leader in Mpumalanga Anthony Bernadie said yesterday.

He said while the funding of the event was originally the responsibility of the national Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation, the DA believed that the provincial department of sport, arts, culture and recreation and the department of education must develop a long-term plan to assist aspiring Mpumalanga swimmers.

Bernadie said he had written to the MECs of both departments requesting their assistance in this regard.

"Transport alone to East London costs more than R42000. What about accommodation?

"We cannot allow the future of these young people to be destroyed by inefficient planning by the national and provincial governments," Bernadie said.

But Sammy Mpatlanyane, the spokesman for the provincial department of sport, arts, culture and recreation, denied that they had abandoned the swimmers.

"The funding for the championships has not been withdrawn. It has only been postponed to a later stage," said Mpatlanyane.