As a white South African I am as much fed-up with the term ‘Transformation Targets’ then the next white dude.
After 23 odd years in the new South Africa we all want to believe that we have come a long way in putting the past behind us and working together in our beautiful country towards a place where every person is equal and have the same opportunities as the next person no matter the colour of your skin.
I am no politician and nor will I go into the political issues that face our country today, but I am a sport fan.
With the 2019 Cricket and Rugby World Cup around the corner most of the talks around these two sport codes have been and will be about the issue of transformation and the targets that the two governing bodies need to achieve.
So what are the targets set by the two governing bodies?
CSA implemented quotas at the start of the 2015/2016 domestic cricket season where all teams had to field 6 players of colour in their starting XI.
Three of those players had to be African black players. This rule was adhered to in domestic matches, but government wants at least 6 players of colour in the Proteas starting line-up by 2019.
SARU set themselves a target where they would increase black participation to 50% by 2019. It’s not hard to see that they are well short of this, which is why the issue rages on in rugby.
But in 2016/2017 report Rugby showed a 17 percent improvement to achieve 60 percent of the targets agreed with the Department of Sport and Recreation South Africa (SRSA) and the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC). The EPG sets a minimum target of 50 percent achievement as the measure of successful compliance.
This actually show us it is not all doom and gloom, but that we still have work to do.
It is a fact that coloured and black players do not want to see themselves as players that are in a squad or team because of the colour of their skin, but the reality is that without going through this transformation process we will never get to a point where we can stop asking about how many players of colour are in the teams.
Simply putting targets and reaching it should not be the expectation, the system that are put in place should make it possible for any person to achieve his or her ability at the highest possible level they can achieve.
Fact is that if you just cannot just pick players due to a target being set which you need to achieve at a certain time.
The work needs to be done before you get to National Level in a sport and that is were we have failed miserably.
Coaches and referees are not excluded in this process or strategy of SARU.
Excluding Deon Davids who is currently the head coach of the Southern Kings all the other franchises are coached by white coaches. This including the Cheetahs and Griquas and the Pumas who received franchise status last year.
I do not have the numbers but how many black coaches are coaching at top schools and universities at the moment and what are we doing to firstly promote this and to get these coaches develop?
Developing the sport must not be seen purely in the players numbers in the game.
Development should be implemented in schools, universities and clubs as well.
This also does not mean that to pick the correct % of black players give us success, we need to implement a sustainable structure to make sure we keeps this flow of players coming through to the franchises.
The question I had to asked myself the last couple of years was, what does transformation mean to me?
The answer for me is to change, and more than that, the same opportunity for everyone.
That is to give the opportunity to all, not just a selective few who comes from wealthy homes or those who come from a good school or university and surely not to just players that played in a tournaments like Craven Week, but every player that shows the potential.
Not enough is being done for those players falling outside these elite schools, universities and tournaments, they just fade away because they were not part of these so called elite groups or schools.
The simple fact is that not enough is being done to identify and develop such players.
For that reason we still sit with a goldmine of players in the Eastern Cape which nobody knows about.
There are plenty of Siya Kolisi’s and Damien Willemse’s out there in all the corners of South Africa but not enough effort and money is spend in identifying or developing these players.
Let’s face it, this will cost money to sustain, and therefore it needs to be run as such.
You can also not expect that all of this must be SARU responsibility. We need a collective effort from Government, schools, clubs, universities, unions and franchises to put time, money and effort into this.
Government can not put down targets and hold up their hands saying it up to you to achieve it.
If you look at the current group of players playing in PRO14 and Super Rugby we can see that we have a starting point at least.
Fullback: Aphelele Fassi, Warrick Gelant, Damian Willemse, Malcolm Jaer
Wings: Sbu Nkosi, Makazole Mapimpi, Cornal Hendricks, Rosko Specman, Dilan Leyds, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Hacjivah Dayimani, Sbusisi Sithole, Travis Ismaiel, Duncan Matthews, Sergeal Pietersen, Seabelo Senatla
Midfield: Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Lionel Mapoe, Howard Mnisi, Juan De Jongh, Ntabeni Dukisa
Flyhalf: Elton Jantjies, Damien Willemse, Manie Libbok, Masixole Banda
Scrummy: Embrose Papier, Herschel Jantjies
Eightman: Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Juarno Augustus
Flank: Siya Kolisi, Thembelani Boli, Eboho Mohoje, Time Agaba
Lock: Bobby De Wee, Hyron Andrews, Marvin Orie, Salmaan Moerat
Prop: Ox Nche, Lizo Gqoboka, Trevor Nyakane, Ali Vermaak, Tendai Mtawarira,
Hooker: Joseph Dweba, Scarra Ntubeni, Edgar Marutlulle, Ramone Sameuls, Bongi Mbonambi
Yes not all of them may make it as a Springbok but a proper system provides a constant flow of players coming through which franchises can pick from and those that can will make it to the National sides.
And for those that say it will never work, then I ask why did it work at Sevens? Yes it may be a smaller pool of players and easier to manage, but the correct structures provided us with the players that come through a system that works.
If we can look past the fact that this is a obstacle, we can achieve so much more in the progress to make the game better.
It only requires people to change their understanding of the problem and what it will take to get it right, if we can do that it will be better not just for transformation but also the game.