Canoeing South Africa has urged national government to assist national sporting federations as many confront financial collapse during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown and they approach what many are calling “Day Zero”.
Some financial relief has been offered by the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture but the portion earmarked for sport has focussed heavily on subsiding the professional athletes who have taken salary cuts or lost income as a result of being unable to compete.
President of Canoeing South Africa Kim Pople stressed that the overwhelming majority of the sporting federations that fall under the national sports governing body SASCOC where heavily reliant on income from affiliations, membership fees and entries to events to support their infrastructure and the ban on all forms of organised competition has led to a cash flow crisis for many federations.
“Athletes are not registering for the new season because there are no events being organised, and the lack of race entries has dried up that income stream for a lot of federations. That’s why these federations are watching their cash flow and dipping into their reserves, knowing that Day Zero is just months away for many of them,” said Pople.
“National federations, their provincial structure and the clubs on the ground are all the backbone of sport in South Africa, and if these collapse because of the financial crisis created by the COVID-19 lockdown, the results will be disastrous for every athlete, whether professional, semi-professional or purely recreational athletes in South Africa,” said Pople.
“Many international level athletes, like our paddlers who represent South Africa in the various disciplines around the world, are amateur athletes who rely on income from elsewhere to fund their sport. They don’t earn any income from representing their country, in fact it costs them a lot of money to do so.
“Many of them earn income from running training and development programmes, administering club structures and offering coaching services, all of which are under serious threat right now,” she added.
“Canoeing is proud of the success of development programmes around the country, as evidenced by the results of the recent Dusi Canoe Marathon, where a very significant proportion of the top hundred athletes were products of long-standing and successful development programmes run by coaches and mentors who’s modest incomes are now under threat,” said Pople.
“Mitigating the impact of the lockdown has got to look at helping federation, provincial and club structures to survive as much as it is about assisting professional athletes whose incomes are compromised,” she said.
Pople pointed out that the War Room created by SASCOC was working hard to interface with the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture under minister Nathi Mthethwa to secure a responsible reintegration of sporting activities, and hopefully with it, helping federations stave off the looming financial “Day Zero”.