Invest in sport

Jacques Baartman, Rocklands

“Explosive”, the headline on the back page of the Plainsman of March 6 just about sums it all – the two apart worlds in Mitchell’s Plain.

On the one side a community with a population of an estimated 1.5 million residents with more than 50% made up of youth under the age of 30 who find themselves trapped in a vicious poverty cycle characterised by unacceptably high levels of unemployment, crime, gangsterism, drop-outs and teen pregnancies .

On the other side, the talent of our youth who have to discover their skill and talent on the dusty fields and sandy dunes of our schools in search of that promised recognition of national selection to represent their country.

Our athletes from Portland and Mondale high schools deserve an all-round applause for their impressive performance at the Western Province high schools athletic championship in Parow where they put up a formidable performance to rise above adversity and challenges to make us all proud.

I salute and wish them well on the road to the national finals and pray that like our national heroes and heroines such as Wayde van Niekerk and Caster Semenya you will succeed in establishing for yourselves a professional career in sport.

Of course not all of us can make it to the highest level but take comfort in knowing that you gave it your best and never give up for there will always be tomorrow

In general research indicates and statistics confirm the positive benefits of sport, among others improved health; fitness and education. It also holds enormous potential to create business opportunities and employment.

It’s worth noting that the Global Millennium Development Goals and the Magglingen Conference in 2005 both affirm sport as a “beacon of hope” for peace building and development efforts throughout the world.

Sadly the beacon of hope has a long time ago evaporated into despair in Mitchell’s Plain where our sport and recreational facilities have been transformed into killing fields.

Further, while Cape Town accounts for approximately 10% of the South African population, more than 60% of the country’s most violent crime happens here. If one calculates the hundreds of millions spent on the police fighting youth crime; the criminal justice system in prosecuting criminals and keeping them locked up behind bars, including feeding them every day, compared to what is spent on sport within our community, then the answer to why we’re not winning the war against crime and gangsterism is relatively straightforward and evident for everyone to see.

Big business also have a fiduciary duty and responsibility through their corporate social investment efforts to help uplift and develop our areas instead of annually just taking out billions of rands in Mitchell’s Plain alone without substantially reinvesting into our communities who support them.

So, instead of grappling to find answers for quick-fix, short-term solutions, I say if we can get the basics right then we will have sustainable long-term benefits.