A long-term study has found that sport participation has the ability to improve socio-economic conditions in the Western Cape and currently makes a significant contribution to the province’s economy.
The study, The Case for Sport, was undertaken by the Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport (DCAS) in partnership with the University of the Western Cape’s Interdisciplinary Centre of Excellence for Sport Science and Development (ICCESSD).
The research has shown that sport has contributed in excess of 2.2% of the Western Cape Gross Domestic Product or R8.8 billion, since 2012.
According to the findings, the sport sector also supports 60 000 jobs in the province and has the potential to increase economic growth and tourism.
Some of the core findings of the research included:
· Strong evidence exists and prescribes that sport and recreation make a substantive and significant contribution to the socio-economic development of the province in real terms. The research showed the benefits of sport for socio-economic development are largely underestimated, and that sport and recreation should be viewed as an important economic contributor and employment creator.
· Sport and recreation in the province are closely linked with sport and cultural events and the environment acts as a pull-factor for tourism and the hospitality industry. The Western Cape has a competitive edge in offering mega and large sport and recreation events as a destination and the further implementation of the Provincial Events Strategy is seen as a priority.
· Various sporting types hold significant potential for future growth, social development and a need exists to do a more detailed analysis of the various economic systems that are involved. Other than the large and popular spectator sport types such as rugby, cricket and soccer, it was found that a critical mass of minority sport types hold substantive economic power and potential and warrant further attention.
· The recreation field is hugely underestimated: A need exists for improved organisation and a better understanding of the meaning and scope of a variety of important recreation types.
· Sport and recreation have a major impact on social development and impacts positively on health, education, human and social capital, and especially the youth. In another local research study by UCT researchers, it has now been proven that increased activity improves health and reduces health costs. The research has shown that sport and recreation act as a significant vehicle for skills training and education and various NGOs and the MOD programme are making a significant difference in this respect.
· Participation rates of learners in physical activity at school in sport and recreation in the Province was the worst in the country in 2008. According to the Medical Research Council, youth at risk in the intermediary and high risk category totaled 36% of the province’s youth. The poor rate of participation by women, standing at 66% not active, requires particular urgent attention.