SPORTS, POLITICS LIKE TOUNGUE, SALIVA
SPORTS – Sports and politics are intertwined like the tongue and saliva. We all want to see sports solely as an arena of play, not seriousness. But here is the thing; this can cheapen not only the greatness and relevance of sports to us as a society, but also the courage of the athletes.
One could not help but notice at least five sports names in the 63long list vying for the 10 senate seats available in the 11th parliament.
Sports diplomacy describes the use of sport as a means to influence diplomatic, social, and political relations. Sports diplomacy may transcend cultural differences and bring people together.
Parliamentarians’ duty by its very nature is to implement policies and if all five of those nominated get the vote, it can only mean the sporting fraternity and its bottomless hole of issues can be taken care of. It means these men can advocate for an increased sports budget which stands at a meager E8 million currently, push for the facelift of Somhlolo National Stadium which has been relatively unchanged since Independence 50 years ago and all the other ills that affect sports development across all codes.
The use of sports and politics has had both positive and negative implications over history. Sports competitions have had the intention to bring about change in certain cases. Nationalistic enthusiasm is sometimes linked to victories or defeats in some sports.
While the Olympics is often the biggest political example of using sports for diplomatic means, cricket and football, as well as other sports in the global arena, have also been used in this regard.
In the case of apartheid in neighbouring South Africa, sport was used to isolate South Africa and bring about a major overhaul in that country’s social structure. While background and race can cause division, sports can also help blend differences.
Politics and sports can never be divided and so now we know. Be it as it may be, we have had well known sportsmen getting seats in parliament but offered little if nothing at all in pushing the sports agenda. Then that worries me as a sports journalist and do not even want to mention the rest of this sports-mad nation.
Just like it happens with many of these legislators across all the Tinkhundla centres where they forget about the electorate immediately they assume office- these men have not been influential in sports issues. Sports, some may argue is a drop in the ocean to other government’s social responsibilities and major capitals which are to transform this tiny kingdom to first world status at least by the year 2022 but in reality, the power of sports in this drive cannot be overlooked.
His Majesty King Mswati III seemingly has been the first to realise the power of this attracting magnet called ‘sports’ with the inception of Ingwenyama Cup (a football knockout tournament that brings together football and culture, blending it to some beautiful spectacle as seen over the past three years) and the Imbube Marathon (which brings together athletes from across the region and locals of all sizes, ages and shapes to road running).
The king is the brainchild behind this events and hoping these men vying for senate seats have been following keenly and can now bring an overhaul to sports as a whole. Being in politics means power and power means influence.
The House of Assembly already has a fair share of sports people from former Minister of Sports, Culture and Youth Affairs David ‘Cruiser’ Ngcamphalala to former senior football national team Sihlangu coach Harries ‘Madze’ Bulunga along with former elite league side Matsapha United boss Victor Malambe.
We can only hope these gentlemen can bring about the needed change in sports and start by looking at the critical issues within each code if this country is to be marketed well across the globe amid plenty of talent in its disposal.