SA’s Sports Funding Policy should follow England’s approach.
The North West provincial government recently adopted a Sport Plan and Funding Policy for the province with the key focus on how to create an enabling environment for sport to flourish in the “home where champions are made”.
This policy approach is similar to that being followed in England by UK Sport, which recently adopted a new code for sports governance in the country that demands from all sports bodies seeking public funding to meet new “gold standards of governance” before their applications will be considered.
This code is “considered to be among the most advanced in the world” and it “sets out the levels of transparency, accountability and financial integrity that will be required from those who ask for Government and National Lottery funding”.
Under the Code, funding approval will be biased towards organisations, which have at least “a 30 percent gender diversity” on their boards, be transparent on their “structure, strategy and financial position of the organisation” and have “constitutional arrangements that give boards the prime role in decision making”.
According to UK Sport, “The Code isn’t a barrier to organisations obtaining public funding. Indeed, many of the requirements build on things already being done within the sector. The Code also includes clear guidance to help organisations meet the requirements and raise standards. Sport England and UK Sport will support organisations to achieve the standards”.
It is understood that the North West province is the first provincial tier of government after the national Department of Sport and Recreation (SRSA) that has adopted a Sport Plan and Funding Policy, which is aligned with that of the National Sport and Recreation Plan (NSRP).
The plan primarily focuses on the province’s vision and mission that aim “towards excellence in education and sport development” in line with the objectives of the NSRP that promotes the notion of “an active and winning nation” through key interventions like the provision of facilities, capacity building for sports bodies and using “sport as a tool” for social change and transformation.
The province’s funding policy stipulates that applications for support will only be considered if sports bodies meet the required criteria inclusive of signing an agreement to use the funds for its intended purpose as well as insisting that recipients commit themselves to annual audits.
The biggest advantage of this policy is that the province will no longer be dealing with ad-hoc requests for funding, since sports bodies will be required to submit annual applications via the Provincial Sports Confederation as well as a business plan showing how they will strive to generate additional income to sustain their programmes.
The policy will also allow the province to use the updated member registers of clubs and federations to conduct exact audits on how many people are participating in sport as well as benefitting from provincial funding.
Considering the above benefits, it thus become a challenge for other provincial sport departments and municipalities to start a conversation with their stakeholders on how to give life to the strategic goals and objectives of the NSRP, which will go into a full review in 2020.
It is without a doubt a compulsory consideration for municipalities, provincial departments and all stakeholders to move towards adopting a sustainable and workable Sport Plan and Funding Policy under the prescripts of modern day demands of transparent governance and ethics. This will allow for the creation of an enabling environment for sport to grow and to achieve our ultimate aim of one day having an aspirational “active and winning nation”.
Gerrit Davids – Managing Director at Gerom Media, Sports & Entertainment (Pty) Ltd, which has assisted eThekwini Municipality and the North West Department of Education and Sport Development with their respective Sport Plans and Funding Policies. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org | Cell. 082 496 1657