With Athletics SA (ASA) apparently digging itself out of a financial crisis, transformation is the next key focal point moving forward, according to the federation’s president Aleck Skhosana.
In his address to the ASA council at the annual general meeting at the weekend, Skhosana said the national body was almost out the red, after wading in nearly R20 million debt.
“Our finances are better than before and we strive to make them even better given the fact that we had to first clear all the debts,” Skhosana said.
The debt had apparently been inherited from the federation’s previous administration, which had been locked in multiple legal battles.
Around R8 million was owed to Sars in outstanding taxes and penalties, while the federation had also failed to defend a lawsuit filed by injured pole vaulter Jan Blignaut, with the court ordering ASA to pay R10.4 million in damages and legal fees.
The mounting debt had threatened to bring the ASA office in Houghton under the auctioneer’s hammer, with the athletics body in danger of losing its largest asset.
While the federation had not announced any major sponsorships since losing its last corporate backing in 2012, a licence number deal with Old Mutual for an undisclosed amount and a broadcast agreement with the SABC reportedly worth more than R10 million had formed part of the governing body’s income.
Earlier this season, ASA hosted a four-leg track and field Night Series, offering prize money across the board, and announced incentives ranging between R5 000 and R25 000 for athletes and coaches involved in breaking national records this year.
With the financial problems seemingly stabilised, Skhosana said attention needed to be directed towards transformation.
The athletics body was suspended by sports minister Fikile Mbalula from hosting major international events (barring the recent African Championships, as Durban had already won the bid) in April, along with three other federations, and Skhosana called on ASA’s provincial and associate members to assist in achieving transformation objectives in order to have the sanction lifted.
“The ASA board has done its part, and we are only calling upon you to comply and conform, in order to come out of the predicament. Your support and action will be critical going forward
on this matter.”
According to an official who attended the meeting, a decision was made to no longer accept individual entries at national championship events, in order to drive transformation.
Only athletes selected by their provinces would be able to participate at SA Championships in future, and targets would be introduced at provincial level.