Minister Marais delivers keynote address at Sport and Peace Conference | Western Cape Government


Minister Marais delivers keynote address at Sport and Peace Conference

21 September 2021

Today, Minister Anroux Marais delivered the keynote address at the 8th International Cape Town Sport and Peace Conference in our new norm that is hybrid or fully virtual events.
Revered as the largest annual sport and peace conference in South Africa, the Cape Town Sport and Peace Conference brings together a unique gathering of local and international individuals from Academia, government, non-profit organisations, education, business and media in the field of Sport, Peace and Development. 
As we now contain, adapt and recover in the province, the Western Cape Government safely moves forward with innovative collaborations such as the International Cape Town Sport and Peace Conference to focus on Values, Safeguarding & Mentorship in Sport and Development, foregrounding the Healing Power and Challenges of Sport during times of COVID and in the Olympic Year. 
During the keynote address, Minister Marais said, “The Western Cape Government understands that the COVID-19 pandemic had and continues to have an impact on the physical and mental wellbeing of our citizens as well as officials across the province. It is for this reason that the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport (DCAS) has taken the lead to advise on programmes to offer long term healing and counselling support to the citizenry, both formal and informal."
"We are living amid the first global mass trauma event for several decades. It's arguably the first of its kind since World War 2, and likely the first of such severity in our lifetime. Billions of people have had to contend with loneliness, anxiety, boredom and grief during the triple crisis of a global pandemic, a brutal economic downturn, and a profound social and cultural dislocation. After the pandemic ends, the effects of the mass trauma that it has inflicted will linger across societies for years. The challenge then is overburdened psychiatric and special services to respond to this large scaled trauma."

To respond to this evidence, we should spend some time on the impact of Recreation and Sport on Mental Wellbeing. Studies suggest that sport achieves a number of impacts simultaneously, making it a highly cost-effective intervention. Many of the links between sport and different social impacts are common, including greater physical competence, better cognitive skills, better social skills, trust and reciprocity, and identification with social values. These help to counteract risk factors and stimulate favourable reaction to protective factors. Wellbeing is the manifestation of the catalytic role that sport plays in stimulating social impacts. Without a sense of wellbeing from participating, people would not sign up to sport; people would not play as frequently as they do and the Olympic and Paralympic Games null and void. There is, then, evidence of a positive relationship between sport participation and Subjective Wellbeing. While wellbeing is connected to health, particularly mental health, it is also linked to anti-social behaviour, education and social capital.”

The DCAS action plan to respond to this evidence includes, which already is well on its way, consulting relevant government partners, civil society and business, through implementation strategies that include nudges and tweaks to build on successes we have had, projects and events and interventions, which focus on collective approaches and not only individual selfcare.
In keeping hope alive, while creating a social movement for healing to safely move forward together, we have focused our energies on staff wellbeing, advocacy campaigns, creating new narratives and meaning and training our teams delivering our services, programmes and assistance on the ground to the citizens in our care.  Today more than ever, cultural affairs and sport are essential in contextualizing frameworks to make sense of the dialogues at the core of social ills and the added challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. It builds the trust needed to bridge conflicting views and interests, to overcome current barriers with dynamic and innovative approaches, and to understand the values that are embedded in any process of societal progress.

Media Enquiries: 

Stacy McLean
Spokesperson for the Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Anroux Marais
083 504 1171