Johannesburg - While they fiercely compete for fans, the chief executives of Cricket SA (CSA), the SA Rugby Union (SARU) and the SA Football Association (SAFA) believe there is a need for the country’s three biggest sporting codes to learn from each other.
This was echoed at the inaugural Sport Industry Summit in Johannesburg on Thursday, where international experts and market leaders gathered, with the goal of improving South African sport through collaboration between its leading codes and role players.
While the three sporting codes were competitors on a certain level, SAFA chief executive Robin Petersen said it was crucial for them to work together.
“The three of us have control of incredibly important national institutions that do regulate how the country feels about itself,” Petersen said.
“The more we can learn, and the more we can help each other to be successful with our national teams, the better it will be for the country.
“It is actually quite critical that we have those discussions.”
While the three codes faced different challenges, their administrators felt it was an opportunity to engage with each other.
SARU chief executive Jurie Roux said while the three codes were competing for fans, they were competing in different markets.
“It is important that we learn the lessons from those different markets and to think that we are giving away a competitive advantage is incorrect,” Roux said.
“It is important that we get together more often and that we speak to each other and share the lessons that we have learnt with each other.”
There was a perception that cricket and rugby were the only two codes needing to address issues of transformation. Petersen believed soccer faced its own challenges.
“We face different challenges to rugby and cricket who are trying to transform and become more inclusive in terms of bringing on board black players,” Petersen said.
“We are the opposite. We have to look at how do we keep white, Indian and coloured South Africans engaged in the sport, involved with the sport and grow their participation in the sport.
“We can learn from each other and it is important that we are in these conversations together.”
CSA acting chief executive Jacques Faul said he would deem the summit a success if they could get the blueprints from Saru on how to win major international tournaments.
“Sport is actually a young industry if you think about it and you can learn a lot from best practices in business as well,” Faul said.
Among the topics discussed were sport sponsorship, marketing, the hosting of major events and communication.
Panellists included 2010 FIFA World Cup organising committee head Danny Jordaan, Mark Pannes, the chief executive of Italian soccer club AS Roma, and SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) president Gideon Sam.