STRUCTURE OF ASA • ASA consists of 17 provincial members and several associate members. • The associate members include SASA and USSA-Athletics. • The associate members have voting powers at General and Council meetings of ASA. • A representative of USSA-Athletics sits on the board of ASA.
THERE ARE 17 ASA PROVINCES • Athletics North West Cape • Athletics Griqualand West • Athletics North West North • Athletics Central North West • Limpopo Athletics • Mpumalanga Athletics • Athletics Guateng North • Central Gauteng Athletics • Athletics Vaal Triangle • Athletics Free State • KwaZulu Natal Athletics • Border Athletics • Eastern Province Athletics • Athletics Transkei • Athletics South Western Districts • Boland Athletics • Western Province Athletics
PROVINCIAL MEMBERS • These are run along a similar organisational line to ASA, with the members being the clubs within that province. • The decision making power within the provinces is the General Meeting of the clubs. • Because of the recent turmoil within ASA, several of the provinces are being administered by interim structures, due to resignations and removal of certain officials
SCHOOLS ATHLETICS • Schools Athletics falls under SASA, which is an Associate Member of ASA. • Schools Athletics nominally falls under Athletics South Africa, but does not consult with ASA on technical and organisational matters. • The situation within the provinces depends on the province. There are currently three different situations: • The ASA province and school sport within the province work closely together (in some cases the ASA province is effectively run by schools athletics). • The ASA province and school sport do not co-operate at all. • The two organisations operate separately but have joint championships.
COMPETITION OPPORTUNITIES • Track & Field • Primary Schools • High Schools • Cross Country
PRIMARY SCHOOLS • ASA does not deal with competitions for these ages. They are dealt with solely by the schools. Some provinces do cater for events for those ages. • The Schools have provincial and national championships. • The IAAF does not recognise specialised competitions for these ages – they have developed a Kids Athletics programme. • The IAAF development structure is based on a progression from 6 years-senior level, where the children at the lower ages take part in team competitions where they have to take part in several events and learn several skills. From there they progress to more focused combined events and then to specialised skills by the age of 16.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE TWO Current SA structure: • Requires developed facilities. • Requires funding to bus and accommodate children at the facility. • Places undue stress on the child, who is taking part in as an individual. • Requires early specialisation. • If the child (or parent/teacher) chooses the wrong event so early they are lost to the sport.
IAAF PROGRAMME • Only requires an equipment pack – about R5000 – and an open field or hall. • Children learn skills in a team environment where they are exposed to several events develop skills at the same rate as their physical development. • When the child does specialise later they have learnt basic skills in all events and can translate those into their specialist event. • The child’s talent can be identified from the range of activities they do.
COACHES AND TECHNICAL OFFICIALS STRUCTURES • These structures in Athletics collapsed several years ago and are not functional. • There is no national syllabus or qualification structure. • There are many courses put on in provinces and regions, but they do not carry any national endorsement. Many schools (and ASA) officials are not using the current IAAF Rule Book. • This is a major priority. The national office is working on a proposal for the upgrading of the skills of current officials and training new ones. • Once the structure is finalised, training courses and programmes will be rolled out.
HIGH SCHOOLS This is where there is duplication: • ASA holds a national Youth (u18 – 16, 17 years) and Junior (u20 – 18, 19 years) Championships. These are a prelude to the World Championships (Youth and Junior are held in alternate years). • SASA holds a national High Schools Championships. The age groups are u15, u17 and u19. These are not international age groups. However, the athletes who participate at the Youth and Junior Championships are often also in the High Schools Championships.
PROVINCIAL CHAMPIONSHIPS • In the provinces, there are qualification rounds. As pointed out before, in some cases these are with the provinces, in some cases they are different. • The biggest issue is that the schools boundaries do not equate to the ASA boundaries and in same cases there is a need for an additional provincial schools championships to select the provincial schools team (eg in the Western Cape, the three ASA province have championships and then they have a separate Western Cape Championships – adding extra cost of transport, accommodation, etc and also overstretching the athletes).
CROSS COUNTRY • There is a similar situation with cross country. • However, with cross country in most ASA provinces there is little co-operation between ASA structures and the school structures. (There are some notable exceptions). • In many cases the children run during the week at the schools and on the weekend at the ASA province’s event. This means that most athletes are over racing. • There are separate national ASA and Schools Championships. This duplication makes little sense, as there are no international competitions below the ages 16-19. • There should be one championship for cross country, with the younger ages being schools competitions and the old ages being ASA competitions (in order to go forward to the world championships).
LEAGUES • There are currently no schools league structures. The focus of schools track & field and cross country is to qualify for the next knockout phase, not inter-schools competition. • Athletics is also a team sport, but schools tend to focus on individual performances and medals tables at the national championships.
2012 FIXTURES • The fixtures for 2012 still need to be finalised. • It would be ideal to have one national junior and one national cross country championship, but if SRSA continues to fund separate schools championships then it is unlikely that the schools will agree to this.
POSTSCRIPT • South African Athletics is healthy for the ages 14-17. • The biggest challenge is in the ages 18-22. The numbers competing are low. • This happens because the schools athletics structure don’t have long-term development as their focus. • The duplication in structures is also confusing to athletes who don’t realise that the sport continues after school.