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New cost-cutting rules by the National Lotteries Commission could destroy Cinderella sports

by ZwemZa on May 16th, 2017
Sascoc’s annual salary bill stands at more than R14-million‚ but Reddy said this was necessary. “If you don’t have the administration to run your affairs‚ you’re wasting your time.” (Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images)

Sascoc’s annual salary bill stands at more than R14-million‚ but Reddy said this was necessary. “If you don’t have the administration to run your affairs‚ you’re wasting your time.” (Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images)

Cinderella sports face ruin if new cost-cutting rules by the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) are imposed‚ top SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) officials have warned.

Rowing‚ swimming‚ athletics and triathlon — which produced nine of the country’s 10 medals at the Rio Games last year — are all at risk.

The Lotto has introduced two hammer blows in its latest regulations.

One is a cooling off period that will prevent organisations from applying for a year after a successful application.

The other is downgrading Sascoc‚ the umbrella body responsible for sending teams to multisport events‚ to the status of national federation.

That means grants to Sascoc would be capped at R5-million for an effective two-year period — a massive cut from recent allocations that have topped R100-million per annum.

As it is‚ national federations would get R5-million every two years instead of every 12 months.

Sascoc president Gideon Sam said on Tuesday he had already been in talks with the NLC and would engage new sport minister Thembelani Nxesi after his budget speech to Parliament later this month.

“We agreed it would not be in the interests of South African sport‚ let alone Sascoc‚” said Sam. “I am confident [we can change their minds]‚ otherwise we don’t have sport.”

A lack of funds had already meant cutting the size of the team for the Commonwealth Youth Games in Bahamas in July‚ Sam added.

His CEO‚ Tubby Reddy‚ said Sascoc could be out of business in less than 12 months.

“As it stands we can keep our doors open until the end of the financial year‚ which is next year March. We have some resources of our own … ‚ Lotto money rolled over‚ we get a grant from the IOC and shares from Pumelela.

“There’s no point in being open. If you can’t deliver teams and prepare athletes‚ there’s no point.”

The biggest casualties would be Olympic and Paralympic athletes who receive Sascoc’s Operation Excellence funding‚ which totalled tens of millions of rands in the build-up to the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympics.

Star swimmers Chad Le Clos and Cameron van der Burgh were given in excess of R3-million combined since 2009.

The fund benefited sprinter Anaso Jobodwana‚ the 200m world championship bronze medallist in 2015‚ during his rehabilitation from two serious injuries in 2014 and last year.

The programme is also the lifeblood of the successful rowing squad‚ a consistent source of Olympic and world championship silverware and which qualified an precedented five boats for the last Olympics.

“We are 70% reliant on Sascoc for everything‚” said  Roger Barrow‚ World Rowing’s coach of 2016.

Since Sascoc was formed in 2004‚ a merger between the National Olympic Committee of SA (Nocsa)‚ the SA Commonwealth Games Association  and the government-run Sport Commission‚ it has failed to attract meaningful corporate sponsorships.

Reddy said Sascoc received little Lotto funding in the years preceding the 2008 Olympics in Beijing‚ where SA won just one medal.

After being voted in as president soon afterwards‚ Sam helped unlock Lotto funding for Sascoc and national federations.

At London 2012 SA won six medals‚ with three golds‚ to score the nation’s best performance since readmission‚ and at Rio 2016 they improved to 10 gongs and the country’s best result since 1920.

“When I see what’s happening in athletics now‚ you can’t back off‚” said Sam.

The four track and field medals won in Rio were the most by SA athletics at a single Games.

Sascoc’s annual salary bill stands at more than R14-million‚ but Reddy said this was necessary. “If you don’t have the administration to run your affairs‚ you’re wasting your time.”

The NLC did not respond to questions yesterday.

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