Sipho Mabena

By Sipho Mabena

Premium Journalist


SA Navy recruitment drive: Youth inhibited by lack or poor management of facilities

In urban areas where there are swimming facilities, many are not being properly maintained and in rural areas, they do not exist.


What has sunk the prospects of scores of SA Navy diving hopefuls is not the inability to swim but the lack of facilities to open up possibilities, which inhibits young people’s developmental and career prospects. Despite making the academic cut of the selection process, Olebogeng Mathe could not make the 300m swim in eight minutes on the first day of the Mpumalanga leg of the SA Navy recruitment drive trials in Mbombela. SA Navy diving squad requirements On the first day of the trials on Monday, he swam two laps of the required six laps of the 50m Olympic-size swimming…

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What has sunk the prospects of scores of SA Navy diving hopefuls is not the inability to swim but the lack of facilities to open up possibilities, which inhibits young people’s developmental and career prospects.

Despite making the academic cut of the selection process, Olebogeng Mathe could not make the 300m swim in eight minutes on the first day of the Mpumalanga leg of the SA Navy recruitment drive trials in Mbombela.

SA Navy diving squad requirements

On the first day of the trials on Monday, he swam two laps of the required six laps of the 50m Olympic-size swimming pool and displayed potential, but the requirements for the SA Navy diving squad are stringent.

So Mathe came back yesterday to give it another shot and swam four laps, with his determination impressing the selectors.

ALSO READ: SA Navy recruitment drive: Some applicants had to be rescued from swimming pool

“I try very hard but my arms fail me. My muscles get sore and I just cannot keep going,” he said yesterday.

The only problem with Mathe’s performance was fitness due to lack of training and practice, with the public Van Riebeeck Park swimming pool in Mbombela, less than 30km from where he stays.

Mathe qualified for the academic phase (matric with pure mathematics), he is within the 18 to 22 age threshold, but his failing swim brought his dreams to a halt.

“I did not even know there was a public swimming pool I can use every day for free. I learnt to swim in a river and I jump in whenever I get a chance to swim,” he said.

ALSO READ: SA Navy on recruitment drive for divers

Mathe has a few days to master the 300m swim, so he could give it another shot when the recruitment drive goes to KwaZulu-Natal’s Kings Park swimming pool on 18-19 May. He is 22 this year and his age will soon automatically disqualify him, so he has to give it his all to get in the 2023 intake.

“I want this. I am going to train and go to KZN. I will follow them till the last day,” vowed Mathe.

Poor management of facilities

While aspiring to reach greater heights and make something of their lives, young people are inhibited by the lack or poor management of facilities.

In urban areas where there are swimming facilities, many are not being properly maintained and in rural areas, they do not exist, more than two decades after democracy.

For instance, the City of Joburg was informed at least two weeks in advance that the SA Navy would need the Pimville swimming pool in Soweto to conduct the selection process on 8 and 9 May.

However, they found the swimming pool filthy and the trials had to be moved to Lenasia.

The facilities manager did not even bother to inform the SA Navy that the pool was not suitable for swimming, with an alternative venue having to be found immediately.

ALSO READ: SANDF blames Covid-19 impact as recruitment programme gets halted

In Potchefstroom in the North West, the pool was also found unmaintained and filthy, with the selection drive having to be taken elsewhere when the SA Navy arrived on 27 April.

– siphom@citizen.co.za

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