Heinz Schenk
2 minute read
9 Apr 2014
6:00 am

Mbalula huffs and puffs, but to no avail

Heinz Schenk

It's safe to say that Fikile Mbalula's call for 60% representation in the three major sporting codes will elicit a lot of heated debate.

FILE PICTURE: Minister Fikile Mbalula. Picture: GCIS.

I’ve debated this issue before, and I don’t want to get into it again.

All I’m going to reiterate is that it’s a polarising issue – you’re either for it or against it.

There simply isn’t a middle ground because it merely exacerbates the status quo.

In this regard, it’s the chastened Proteas that provide the perfect example with Aaron Phangiso.

There were times during coach Russell Domingo’s arrival Press conference on Monday where it was indeed tempting to ask him why the steady Highveld Lions left-arm tweaker was picked in the first place.

You see, it wasn’t necessarily because Domingo wasn’t confident in giving an answer, but he delivered it in such a way that Phangiso’s plight seemed hopeless.

Chittagong’s surface was too “run friendly” and in Dhaka, Phangiso would have to face too many Indian left-handers.

Whether those are legitimate reasons is not the point, rather that all that matters is perception.

When the archive gets consulted in a few years time, Phangiso would’ve been another of a sizeable group of black or coloured players who kicked their heels at a showpiece tournament.

That’s why politicians like Mbalula issue these threats – because of the dreaded middle ground.

It’s just not sufficient to pick him in a squad anymore. The man needs to play, otherwise the status quo remains.

And that status quo forces quotas on federations. Whether it’s morally wrong, South African sport has brought it upon themselves.

Down the years, administrators have allowed too many coaches and managers to cultivate and reinforce the perception that they don’t rate black players.

You reap what you sow.

But before many despair, I want to add a touch of cynicsim.

With about a year to go before the World Cups in both cricket and rugby, I’m willing to bet that Mbalula’s plans won’t come to fruition.

History tells us that Government likes to huff and puff but they never blow the house down.

In 2001, Ngconde Balfour summoned then Bok coach Harry Viljoen to a meeting demanding answers on some of his selections.

Viljoen was up for the fight and Balfour backed down. They bemoaned Quinton Davids’ treatment during the ugly Geo Cronje saga, but never even pushed Saru on why the issue was pretty much swept under the carpet.

They didn’t even raise a peep when Ashwin Willemse was the only non-white player in the Bok side for the 2003 quarterfinal against the All Blacks. Same in 2007 when the Boks only had two in the final.

South Africa continues to invite quota threats, but Government are just as guilty of not walking the talk. Believe Mbalula’s words when they turn into action.