Tracking sporting excellence in a transforming society.
Rajput, Daxita Ishwarlal.
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There was a time in South Africa’s history when the majority of its citizens was deprived of their basic human rights and experienced extreme racial divisiveness. Today the South African society has transformed from a highly stratified society to one that is united in its diversity. It is against this context that this study explores how learners who come from diverse racial, socio-economic and cultural backgrounds are achieving sporting excellence in this transforming society. This study reviewed data generated from three sets of participants: learners, provincial coaches and significant others. In-depth interviews were conducted with fifteen learners from the KwaZulu-Natal provincial sports teams, who were from differing and diverse backgrounds and represented the most common codes of sport, played in KwaZulu-Natal schools. Their stories were told in the form of narratives as they journeyed towards sporting excellence, providing detailed background of their life circumstances and experiences. Analysis of these narratives yielded five themes: self and identity; social context; schooling and the curriculum; team spirit and talent search; and race, class and culture, which emphasised the psychological and sociological perspectives of sporting excellence. Further, using the data generated from the provincial coaches and the significant others, the notions of the resolute self, reliance on people, the white school magnets and migration, unwavering nation building and social and racial diversity emerged from the themes. In tracking sporting excellence the focus is shifted to the learners’ journey within a transforming society, to theorise the social spaces which have been navigated by them to ensure sporting prowess. From the analysis of the data I put forward a thesis predicted on three concepts; the spatial movements, the spatial displacements and the spatial upheavals which the learners had to manage and navigate by travelling long distances, overcoming obstacles and making connections respectively. I argue that in a transforming society it is the filtration process of sporting excellence that has only benefitted a select few learners and has uniquely contributed to the achievement of sporting excellence. Achieving sporting excellence in a transforming society