Today marks an important occasion for the department, the municipality, and community of Swellendam at large. It is the day that marks an official opening of one of the sport facilities funded through a ringfenced R300 000 000 from the Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) and allocated by the national Department of Sport and Recreation.

It is befitting to acknowledge that our work in all three spheres of government must give effect to the mandate and planned outcomes of the National Development Plan (the NDP). In this regard, the NDP has imposed upon us to take deliberate actions that will ensure that all communities and settlements in the country have access to sport and recreation facilities. The intended outcome is to support development of sport at community and amateur level by expanding opportunities for participation through provision and improvement of facilities.

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It is a common knowledge that sport is a facility dependent activity, and sport facilities provides an enabling environment for promotion and development of sport and recreation in the country. This facility must be used fully by the community in particular the local community as a recreation facility and surrounding schools to get our youth active. It is only when we provide facilities like this, we can unearth talent. Therefore a sport council must be formed, inclusive of ward Councillor as people’s representative as well representative from surrounding community and any other person the community might deem fit.

This fact is well articulated in our National Sport and Recreation Plan (the NSRP) which expresses our vision of building “An Active and Winning Nation” and further acknowledge that achievement of this vision is underpinned by creation of enabling environment which, amongst others, include provision and maintenance of sport and recreation facilities.
Notwithstanding this acknowledgement, the same NSRP also caution us that South Africa has a challenge of provision, equitable access and maintenance of sport and recreation facilities, which has far reaching consequences for the transformation and development of the sector as a whole, and therefore acknowledge that failure to address sport infrastructure backlogs will compromise the country’s objective of transformation, sports development and increased participation because sport facilities forms the foundation of the entire sport and recreation system.
It is for this reason that, as a Department of Sport and Recreation, we engaged Parliament and the Executive regarding poor delivery of sport and recreation facilities through the current model of the MIG. Under this model, small municipalities like Swellendam are disadvantaged because the formula requires them to spent 5% of the total MIG on sport facilities, and that translates into an amount not sufficient to build even a basic combi court. It is the mission of this department to equalize sport opportunities for all our people, we must nature and develop talent of children in particular from the neglected communities. I expect the municipality to maintain this facility on behalf of the people.

Following funding request from the municipality to upgrade this Railton Sport Grounds by constructing a spectator grandstands, ablution facilities, clubhouse, emergency/open indoor area, all of which combined into a single structure and installation of high mast lights, the department allocated R7 MILLION RANDS for the implementation of the proposed project. We believe these upgrades will improve a level of service offered by the facility, and we are happy that the structural design also caters for people living with disabilities as required by our Norms and Standards.

It is important to also note that beyond creation of an enabling environment for promotion of an active and winning nation, this facility, as required by NDP, must contribute towards social integration and interaction of different races and classes in this community and therefore add to efforts of promoting social cohesion and nation building. It must give expression to the words of our late former president, President Mandela, whom we are celebrating his centenary this year, that “Sports have the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sports can create hope, where there was once only despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination. Sports is the game of lovers.”

Let’s use this facility to unite our children and affirm our country’s ethos that, SOUTH AFRICA BELONGS TO ALL THOSE WHO LIVE IN IT, BLACK AND WHITE.