The game has changed in S.Africa's athletics industry - CNBC Africa

The game has changed in S.Africa's athletics industry

Southern Africa

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Youth athletics. PHOTO: Getty Images

 “Our biggest challenge is really the amount of youth getting through the ranks to be able to develop them into national athletes,” Sydney Maree, former Olympian and co-chair of Corporate Sports Entertainment International told CNBC Africa on Friday.

He further stated that schools’ athletic programmes are lacking the support they require for the sport to thrive once again.

Also, getting the right administrators and educated coached in to understand and push athletics programmes forward has been a challenge, which has resulted in a lack of sponsorships from the corporate world.

Ray Wicksell, former Olympian and chief executive officer of Ray Wicksell Consultancy, added that another challenge to the athletics field is that sports like rugby and cricket are well covered and highly publicised, leading to potential athletes moving to those fields rather than athletics.

“Television has changed things. There’s a lot of TV coverage of rugby, cricket and so forth so athletes are more inspired to be a good rugby or cricket player so you lose them for the Olympic Games,” he said.


Maree believes that the athletics sports industry needs to become more efficient and organised by getting educated administrators and coaches on board so that they can present youth athletics to the corporate world more confidently.

“We need to get our house in order. We don’t show the confidence to the potential investor. If we show that our house is in order and we execute our business properly to the satisfaction of all the various sponsors then they will continue to support us in many various ways,” he explained.

Also, he added, the creation of local role models is essential to reignite the spark that the athletics field once had amongst the youth as people relate better to those that come from similar circumstances.  

“The number one is to push and develop our own role models. Youngsters thrive better if they can identify with a person who grew up in their neighbourhood who is at a different level in life,” added Maree.