Michael Trapido
Michael Trapido

Sports Minister Makhenkesi Stofile says sports quotas are out

I have decided to have Makhenkesi Stofile’s children. It’s not a decision I have taken lightly and I’d better not suffer any morning sickness (I’m a bastard as it is). If I do, he’ll have me on the phone every day, going on about how I slave over a hot stove and clean the house and what thanks do I get?!

But his confirmation that sporting quotas are not the answer to bringing through people of all races is the tonic that we have all been waiting for.

Affirmative action, BEE and quotas in other areas to redress the injustices of apartheid are necessary — no question. I would merely request the powers that be to try to find ways to ensure that these measures reach the masses, rather than a few fat cats. That is for another debate.

What is important is that sport brings us all together. It unites us even where we are divided. (Man United fans excluded — even I have limits.)

Stofile has highlighted the real challenge: How do we level the playing fields and develop all of our people in order to bring about a pool of 45-million? The answer lies in lifting them up through initiatives that are very much within our capabilities.

The government, business and the various sports have a big part to play, but the rest of us have an even bigger part. (Reminds me of my son’s role in the school play — he played the part of a Jewish husband. Next year they’ve promised him a speaking part.)

As I said in my interview with Gavin Varejes, there are many ways in which we can all help.

Instead of bemoaning the lack of black rugby players or white soccer players, get out there and coach some kids, donate some kit or start your own initiatives. Get off your backside and kick a ball with the kids in the park.

Structure your fixture list to include teams from the townships. Sponsor a small tournament or trophy.

The South African Rugby Legends Association is putting up theme parks where kids receive coaching, social-awareness guidance and a meal on training day. Do the same on a small scale in whatever sport you follow.

Don’t spend hours and months on meetings; get out there and play and promote sport to all our people. It’s a great way to meet people in a healthy environment. I’ve even bought my bank manager a season ticket to bungee jumping at the Soweto railway station. They throw him off a tower and he “bounces” up just in front of the tunnel where the trains come out. He’s doing it for charity … or at least he will be when I’ve drugged him and carted him off to Soweto.

If we all make a conscious effort to take part in our own small way, we will take the momentum of the Rugby World Cup victory and make it pay.

I still get goosebumps every time I think of the president being hoisted shoulder-high by the champions in Paris.

Let us become the Australia of Africa where, no matter the sport, we are a force to be reckoned with; proud of all our teams, regardless of race.

If those wonderful, wonderful, wonderful Blue Bulls fans roar Habana on and love him the way they do, then the emotion is there. If the cricket fans roar every time Makhaya comes on to bowl, then the emotion is there.

If the 9.30am from Soweto to Johannesburg can just catch him as he hits the tunnel — before the bounce up — but I digress.

It really is in our hands.