Tuesday, July 23, 2019


Dear Sports Lovers,
Kane Williamson
          New Zealand is a tiny country with a population of a mere 5-million, yet it shows up South Africa’s 58-million badly when it comes to producing team sport winners.
          After reaching the final of the Cricket World Cup for the second successive time earlier this month its Silver Ferns have just won the Netball World Cup for the sixth time having been runners up on 8 previous occasions.
South Africa came fourth. It had some consolation when wing defender Karla Pretorius was named Player of the Tournament. The team’s best performance was second way back in 1995.
In cricket South Africa has never even reached the final of the World Cup in this sport. At this year’s event its Proteas faded so badly that they were lucky not to come last. Meanwhile the Black Caps added to their sterling performance when their captain Kane Williamson, who scored more than 30% of his team’s runs with 578, was named Man of the Tournament.
Another Kiwi batsman Martin Crowe got this accolade in 1992. The best that South Africa could do was when Lance Klusener picked up the trophy in 1999 for his top notch all round 281 runs and 17 wickets.
Lance Klusener
         In rugby South Africa was getting the best of the All Blacks at the World Cup up to 2007 with a win in that year as well as in 1995 when they narrowly beat New Zealand at Ellis Park. At that stage the All Blacks had only won once in 1987 when the tournament started. The Springboks were excluded from that because of apartheid.
More recently the Springboks haven’t featured at all at the centre of the podium with New Zealand taking the title in 2011 and 2015. In 2015 the All Blacks became the first team to defend their title and the first team to win it twice. The Springboks snatched a miserable third place.
It’s hardly surprising then, that the All Blacks are odds on favourites to win again later this year.
In 2011 the Boks, the defending champions, were eliminated in the quarter finals by Australia, another country with a very much smaller population than ours at 24 million. Their rugby not only has to compete for players with the country’s most popular sport Australian Rules football (Footy) as well as Rugby League and soccer.
South Africa’s men have had some good results in sevens rugby but again our team has been very much overshadowed by the All Blacks. The All Blacks kicked off the World Rugby Sevens Series in 1999 by leading the series for six successive years. So far they have accumulated 12 wins to South Africa’s three. 
New Zealand has won the women’s version, which began in 2012, five times out of seven, with Australia taking the title on the other two occasions. South Africa doesn’t seem to feature in this at all.
Evidently with its small population New Zealand can’t be expected to win everything so thankfully it has given soccer a miss.
In South Africa football is the most popular sport, but after the national team Bafana Bafana won the African Cup of Nations at home 23 years ago it has had one poor showing after another.
Karla Pretorius the World's
best netball player
It set what is possibly the worst record in this sport when it became the first host nation in FIFA World Cup history to exit in the group stage. It was when the tournament was held in South Africa in 2010. This was the first time it had been staged on the African continent.
Things got so bad that in 2014 the then Minister of Sport Fikile Mbalula described the team as a “bunch of losers” after it could not even make it to the group stage in the African Cup.
So it seems that South African coaches in many of our sports should be sent to New Zealand to learn how to produce winners. But we first have to get rid of our ridiculous quota system that is hampering our rugby and cricket sides in particular, and forcing white stars to continue their careers elsewhere in the world. There can’t be another country that insists on picking players based more on their colour than their ability.
This takes the cake
      This is being done in South Africa by government decree to ensure that blacks, disadvantaged under the previous whites only apartheid government, get places in the teams. The tragedy is that when they get picked they can’t be sure if it is because they are good enough or because they happen to be the right colour.
It’s hard to think of a better way of hobbling a nation’s sports performances.
Jon, an avid sports watcher who, like our previous Minister of Sport, is getting sick of rooting for losers.

1 comment:

  1. NZ went unbeaten through the 2010 Football World Cup tournament held in South Africa.