When Stormers captain Siya Kolisi took to the field over the weekend in his 100th Super Rugby appearance, and then later led his team off victorious, there were many things which could have been said about him. He is a great player – his Springbok jersey is testament to that – but he is also a rock-solid and inspirational captain.
It is simply not relevant – to the sport of rugby – that this man is black. Quietly, rugby has been transforming in front of our eyes. And most of us probably didn’t even realise it.
This has been confirmed by Sport and Recreation Minister Tokozile Xasa, who released a report on sports transformation yesterday. And, although the progress has been slower over the years than many people would have liked, South African sport is a radically different place now than it was a decade ago.
Xasa said 60% of sports federations have elected black presidents, while almost 70% have boards that are more than 50% black. The representation of women at board level has been improving, too.
On demographic representation, Xasa said national senior male teams of athletics, cricket, football, volleyball, boxing and table tennis have all achieved the Transformation Charter target, with netball, chess, gymnastics, hockey and rugby “moving in the right direction to achieve this interim milestone”.
Cricket’s percentage black profile has improved from 45 to 60%, hockey from 20 to 45%, whereas rugby has moved from 34 to 42%, and netball from 37 to 56%, she said.
Transformation ensures the survival of sports because it brings in more supporters and through exposing up and coming young talent – which may have been ignored in the past – it broadens our player pool. That will, in the end increase our competitiveness.
So let’s embrace this, not fight it …