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Expanding access to sports facilities is a priority for the provincial government, which is also planning to build more public pools.
BUILDING new sports and recreational facilities and expanding access to existing venues, top the list of Gauteng sport’s to do list for 2012.

MEC Lebogang MaileMEC Lebogang Maile“Our programmes are geared towards ensuring that we create access to facilities and infrastructure for sport and recreation, sites of cultural and artistic expressions and heritage,” said the MEC of sport, arts and culture, Lebogang Maile. He was ironing out issues that arose from the state of the province speech made by Premier Nomvula Mokonyane on 20 February.

However, Maile told the media that major facilities such as the big stadiums would not open for everyday community use, but would be used for special sports tournaments and events. The cost of maintaining venues such as the FNB and Orlando stadiums was expensive.

This was in response to recent protests by the youth of Dobsonville, who demanded that they be allowed to use Dobsonville Volkswagen Stadium. “You can’t have people wanting to use our major stadiums for practice sessions; for playing tournaments, yes, it is understandable.”

Maile also took the opportunity to announce the inaugural Gauteng Sport Challenge, which would be launched soon. The competition was aimed at displaying the province’s talents in various sporting codes. Possibilities are high that the challenge might be launched and played in the upcoming Easter holidays.

Furthermore, the department was looking at the prospect of building swimming pools in disadvantaged communities. Various interventions had been rolled out in support of this. They included Learn To Swim, the swimming programme run at Joburg’s public pools.

Commissioner Street to be renamed?Commissioner Street to be renamed?“We are in discussions with one of the parastals to assist the provincial government with the building of swimming pools across Gauteng … We have completed an audit that has determined what infrastructure we have and what state it is in.”

A business plan was in the final stages to determine the costs of refurbishing existing pools and building new ones. Areas had been identified for new pools.

In line with the drive by Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula to revive school sport, Maile stated that schools were a perfect platform to drive a development agenda. The concern, however, was the lack of infrastructure in schools and in their immediate communities. “Our principal area of focus remains the challenge of resources, infrastructure and functional structures.”

Talking about culture and heritage, Maile said initiatives such as the Gauteng Carnival were key activities through which the province could express its artistic and cultural abilities. The carnival was commended for creating about 1 768 temporary jobs.

The renaming of Commissioner Street into Albertina Sisulu Street in central Johannesburg was another of the department’s projects. Sauer Street would also be renamed after a yet-to-be-announced anti-apartheid struggle hero.

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