Sport & recreation

Encouraging participation in sport
Supporting talented athletes
Role players
Programmes and projects
Major events
South African Sports Awards
Major sporting activities




Cover page of Sport and Recreation chapter of South Africa Pocket GuideThe Department of Sport and Recreation South Africa (SRSA) oversees the development and management of sport and recreation in South Africa.

The department’s work to increase the accessibility of sport and recreation facilities contributes to the achievement of the National Development Plan’s goals of nation-building, social cohesion and a healthy national lifestyle, and Outcome 14 (a diverse, socially cohesive society with a common national identity) of government’s 2014-2019 Medium Term Strategic Framework.

Over the medium term, the department plans to encourage participation in sport and recreation at various levels, facilitate transformation in sport and recreation, and support talented and high-performance athletes in excelling and achieving success in the international sporting arena. The department is also preparing to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Durban.

Encouraging participation in sport

The SRSA provides opportunities for mass participation in sport and recreation through campaigns and events such as national youth camps, the Big Walk (a partnership with loveLife to encourage positive lifestyle choices), and indigenous games and school sports.

It will continue to direct resources to targeted disadvantaged communities and individuals to promote participation and increase access to sport and recreation facilities.

The department will assist 60 national federations over the medium term to support school sport programmes and improve access to sports facilities for the development of black athletes.

Provincial departments will be assisted to hold youth camps that teach young people leadership, life skills and national pride.

Young people will be given opportunities to showcase their skills at events such as the national school championships, thereby giving national federations and talent scouts wider exposure to South African sporting talent.

In partnership with the Department of Basic Education, the department supports school sport leagues. In each year of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework period, a projected 2 500 schools, hubs and clubs will receive equipment and attire; and the department will coordinate the training of educators in code-specific coaching, technical officiating, team management and sports administration. School sport aims to integrate the 16 priority sport codes (including football, cricket, rugby, netball and athletics) and indigenous games such as morabaraba and jukskei into the school sport system.

School sport leagues form the foundation of the annual national school sport championships coordinated by the department. The number of age categories per sport was reduced in 2016/17, resulting in a reduction in the number of competitors at the national event to 7 500.

The format of the National School Sport Championships will be revised in 2017/18 so that only one event instead of three will be held at the national level, accounting for the reduction in participant numbers in the national event, from 7 500 in 2016/17 to 5 000 in 2017/18. The other two events will be held as annual provincial school sport championships.

Supporting talented athletes

In line with developing talented athletes, the department awards a Ministerial Sports Bursary, valid for the duration of their high school career, to learners in grades 8 to 12 who are identified as talented young athletes.

The bursary allows them to attend a sports focus school, of which there were 23 across South Africa in 2016.

These schools are identified by provincial departments as having exceptional sports coaching and facilities. New recruits for the bursary programme were identified during the 2016 national school sport championships.

A minimum of 60 qualifying athletes, including learners already on the programme, are expected to be supported through the payment of school fees, provision of school uniforms and sport clothing, sport-scientific support, and event attendance in 2017/18.

Role players

South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC)

SASCOC is the national multi-coded sporting body responsible for the preparation, presentation and performance of teams to all multi-coded events, namely the Olympic Games, Paralympic Games, Commonwealth Games, World Games, All Africa Games, Olympic Youth Games, Commonwealth Youth Games and Zone VI Games.

It also look after the various national federations affiliated to it, together with the various provincial sports councils. SASCOC is responsible for the awarding for National Protea Colours to athletes/officials who have met the criteria to represent South Africa in different sporting codes and arenas.

By mid-2017, SASCOC’s high-performance programme was supporting 40 elite athletes.

South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS)

The SAIDS promotes participation in sport without the use of prohibited performance enhancing substances and methods, and educates sportspeople on fair play and the harmful effects of the use of prohibited performance enhancing substances and methods.

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)

The Africa Regional Office of the WADA was established in Cape Town in 2004 to coordinate the anti-doping activities of the agency throughout Africa.

This includes promoting and maintaining effective lines of communication between the WADA and all relevant stakeholders, governments and public authorities, the broad sports movement, national antidoping agencies and laboratories.

South Africa continues to serve as the African representative on the Executive Committee of WADA.

Boxing South Africa (BSA)

BSA administers professional boxing, recognises amateur boxing, creates synergy between professional and amateur boxing, and promotes interaction between associations of boxers, managers, promoters and trainers.

Programmes and projects

National Sport and Recreation Plan (NSRP)

The NSRP's five strategic objectives, namely:

  • transformation
  • priority codes
  • ethical environment
  • geo-political sports boundaries
  • amateur versus professional sport.

Major events

Africa Games

Team South Africa finished in third place with 122 medals at the 11th Africa Games in Brazzaville, Congo from 4 to 19 September 2015.

Big Walk

The Big Walk is staged on the first Sunday of October to encourage participation in physical activity. The Big Walk takes place in October to align it with The Association for International Sport for All’s (TAFISA) World Walking Day.

TAFISA encourages and lobbies countries to walk by creating advocacy and awareness during October.

Annual National Recreation Day

Although not a public holiday, the day provides an opportunity to all South Africans to be actively involved by participating in recreation activities that will improve their health and well-being.

National Indigenous Games

The National Indigenous Games festival forms part of South Africa’s annual heritage celebrations and brings people from culturally diverse backgrounds together. The popularity of the festival in recent years has contributed to an increase in the number of active participants in sport and recreation events.

The games played included khokho, intonga, ncuva, morabaraba, diketo, drie stokkies, kgati, dibeke and juskei, all of which are indigenous to South Africa and played in various parts of the country. The games also provide recreational activities for young children and families.

South African Sports Awards

The 11th South African Sports Awards ceremony was held at the Sand du Plessis Theatre in Mangaung, Free State in November 2016.

The winners included:

  • Sportsman of the Year – Wayde Van Niekerk
  • Sportswoman of the Year – Caster Semenya
  • Sportsman of the Year with a Disability – Charl Du Toit
  • People’s Choice Sports Star Award – Wayde van Niekerk
  • Sportswoman of the Year with a Disability – Ilse Hayes
  • Team of the Year – Mamelodi Sundowns
  • Coach of the Year – Anna Botha
  • Volunteer of the Year – Kim Pople
  • Newcomer of the Year – Ntando Mahlangu (Athletics)
  • Photographer of the Year – Sydney Mahlangu
  • SA Sports Journalist Year – Thabiso Sithole
  • Developing School Team of the Year – Benny’s Care Academy
  • Federation of the Year – Roller Sports South Africa
  • Steve Tshwete Lifetime Achiever Awards – Thomas
  • Kwenaite, Francois Pienaar and Mzimasi Mnguni.

Major sporting activities

Major sporting codes in South Africa include, among others:

  • Athletics;
  • Biking;
  • Mountain Biking;
  • Cycling;
  • Boxing;
  • Cricket;
  • Canoeing;
  • Rowing;
  • Golf;
  • Hockey;
  • Ice Hockey;
  • Motorsport;
  • Flying;
  • Netball;
  • Rugby;
  • Running (including South Africa’s two world-renowned ultra-marathons – the Comrades Marathon in KwaZulu-Natal and the Two Oceans Marathon in the Western Cape);
  • Soccer;
  • Surfing;
  • Sailing;
  • Swimming;
  • Tennis, and
  • Chess.

Source: Pocket Guide to South Africa

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