New sports minister Zizi Kodwa vows to prioritise school sports

President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed Zizi Kodwa minister of sports, arts and culture.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed Zizi Kodwa minister of sports, arts and culture.
Image: Freddy Mavunda / Business Day

School sport is in Zizi Kodwa’s priority list to make sure that the country finds that missing chord in the sports, arts and culture sector. 

“Catch them young,” he told Sowetan in an exclusive interview a few minutes after being announced as sports minister by President Cyril Ramaphosa last night. “We need to go back to the basics, and I am talking about school sports.” 

Studies suggest that student athletes are less likely to engage in unhealthy or risky behaviour. 

Back in the day, school-going children would not be found loitering in a the streets during the day unless it was Sports Day where there would be movements in townships either to football grounds or race tracks. 

Athletics and football were the mainstay of high schools for decades. 

“We must build a good young person so that we put an end to crime. School sport plays an important role in that regard,” said Kodwa. “If we master that we will be able to deal with social ills like drugs and alcohol because young people do not have appropriate sporting fields to go to. But you need proper infrastructure in schools – learning environment must also be conducive.” 

But Kodwa did not want to sound like an alarmist. “It is not like everything here has collapsed,” he re-assured. “I mean, speak of entertainment, creative arts or music, we’ve had our people appearing in big stages where they raised the South African flag higher; people must be supported in their efforts to making us a better country through sports, arts and culture.” 

He was referring to the trio of Zakes Bantwini, Wouter Kellerman and Nomcebo Zikode, who recently won a Grammy award for best global music performance at the 65th Grammy Awards in Los Angeles last month. 

Kodwa did not promise to build a ship that will transport the troubled sport of boxing to the promised land. But he certainly laid a foundation verbally by urging all stakeholders to contribute towards solidifying it. 

“I follow boxing, cricket, [and] football a lot and I am in a position to tell if a code is doing good or not,” he cautioned. “Boxing is at its weakest point.”

He was concerned that the country has not had representatives in boxing in the Olympics in recent years. The last time SA had a boxer was in 2008 Beijing Olympics where Jackson Chauke bombed out in the early stages. 

Kodwa pleaded with stakeholders to do introspection and look themselves in mirrors and ask what did they do in making sure that the sport returned to the right path where SA always had representatives in the Olympics – something that began in 1992 in Barcelona where Masibulel “Hawk” Makepula was the South African flag bearer. “It begins with you – the religious follower of that sport code – before you can expect others to do good,” warned Kodwa.

Truth be told, many problems that have taken the sport of boxing 10 years backwards were caused by the very licensees who claim to love the fistic sport, with some flagrantly disregarding the regulations, which is a crime because boxing in SA is governed by the Act of parliament. 

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