ASA's chance for clean slate
Wilhelm de Swardt
Pretoria – The most important election to date in the history of South African athletics takes place in Kempton Park on Saturday when members of Athletics South Africa (ASA) elects eight new board members.
It has been said in local athletics circles that ASA is standing in front of its own “Rubicon”.
Gideon Sam, chairperson of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC), says he is quite nervous about the election.
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s an opportunity for ASA to start with a clean slate. If the wrong people are voted in this time, ASA will have to deal with the consequences on its own,” said Sam.
The 17 provinces have nominated 62 candidates for the various positions.
The positions are cross-country chairperson, road-running chairperson, track and field chairperson, athletes’ representative and additional members.
Geraldine Pillay, one of the three nominees for the position of athletes’ representative, said that one of the important goals of the new ASA board has to be to win back the confidence of athletes, coaches and sponsors.
“After everything that has happened in South African elections over the last few years, nobody can be blamed for not having confidence in ASA. With good sponsors it will be possible to lure international athletes to participate in South Africa again.
“We showed with the Soccer World Cup that South Africa has the infra-structure to host major international sporting events.
“There is no reason that South Africa cannot host an International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Grand Prix meeting like Senegal and Algeria do.
“In fact, it’s high time that Africa hosts a Diamond League meeting. Why not South Africa?
“For me it’s also important that we make sure our coaches get the opportunity to attend international courses.
“What does talk of winning 12 medals at the Olympic Games in London in 2012 help when our coaches don’t have adequate knowledge to prepare athletes properly?”
Jean Verster, who has been nominated as an additional member, views the election as the ideal opportunity to elect people that are passionate about athletics and are not out to use the sport for personal gain.
“Whoever is elected must realise that everything is about transparency and accountability. The board will also have to review ASA posts and ensure that there are proper job descriptions.
“The positions should also be advertised well to ensure good applicants. We can’t ever have a situation in ASA again where friends or family members create jobs for one another.”