Quota system enforced for school athletics

File photo.
File photo.
Image: Gallo Images/iStockphoto

The 40% quota system announced recently by SA Schools Athletics (Sasa) has been around for a few years‚ but had just been ignored in some areas‚ says the organisation's president.

A SASA circular this month to its provincial offices said: “The following quota system must be implemented with immediate effect to reflect the demographics … A minimum of 40% from [previously] disadvantaged communities for all SASA teams on all levels of competition‚ with specific emphasis on girls. ”

Primary schools will compete at their national championships from March 14-16 and high schools from March 21-23.

Sasa president William Mokatsanyane told SowtanLIVE the quota was not new. "It's been around for years‚ but it's been ignored."

A quota of 30% had been implemented in 1998‚ and had been raised to 40% around 2013‚ he said.

It's been around for years‚ but it's been ignored
Sasa president, William Mokatsanyane

The circular seen by SowetanLIVE required that at least one athlete per event and age group come from a previously disadvantaged community‚ and specified a maximum entry of four per event for high schools (three merit qualifiers plus one previously disadvantaged) and three for junior schools (two merits plus one disadvantaged).

But Mokatsanyane said the maximum for high schools was actually six - having been updated in a later circular - with five merits and one previously disadvantaged.

In provinces where they couldn't field at least one previously disadvantaged athlete in an event - pole vault and hammer throw were particularly problematic - then selectors needed to ensure they still reached the 40% quota.

Mokatsanyane said there was a great need for athletics development in SA and added that government support for building facilities in townships and villages had been non-existent.

“In the Northern Cape and Mpumalanga there are no tartan tracks. Not one. Can you believe it?

“There used to be one in Secunda [Mpumalanga] but now it's got more potholes than the roads.”

SA's senior athletics team is one of the more representative national squads on offer‚ with athletes of colour making up nearly 60% at the last world championships in 2017.

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