"Mum, do you think I made the team because I'm good, or because I'm black?"
This stumping and awkward question is being raised in households across the country as the quota system manipulates the selection of sports teams and tournaments. From the tender age of seven to international levels of play, the selection of players no longer depends on raw talent and fiery passion, but your ethnical group.
The quota policy dictates that in every competitive sports team a certain pecentageof players and coaching staff must be of colour. This policy has caused much uproar and dispute, as it has been perceived by many as "reverse" or "controlled" racism, favouring particular ethnical groups.
Whilst some raised their hands in frustration because of the injustice, others recoiled in embarrassment. Being chosen based on your skin colour builds a false sense of pride and a deep sense of shame for many "quota" players. These players may be left feeling inadequate or incompetent in their teams. The low self-esteem that develops because of this could be further battered by exclusion or bullying based on the fact that some quota players are perhaps under-qualified.
Their parents feel the blow as they too experience shame in the favouritism and can become socially victimised or excluded. These parents also have to deal with the questions and emotions intertwined with the issue of racism, as well as bullied or distraught children with shattered self-esteems. The parents of the children denied positions could feel fuelled frustration and racism as the effects of apartheid continue to linger in society. These parents may be marginalised and watch helplessly as their children suffer the consequences of a previous generation's mistakes.
The selected team will endure having to carry weaker players and the talent of ethnical players will be called into question, leaving them wondering whether they were chosen based on skill or to filfil a government policy. This sort of doubt disadvantages the team's spirit, performance and unity, but without the meeting quota they would be disqualified from participation in some leagues. Either way, the team will suffer and be unable to reach their full potential.
The players who are denied a position in the team regardless of their talent are left with low self-esteems and a sour taste for the ethnical community. This type of situation spawns hatred, grudges and ultimately racism in the youth, the polar opposite of the government's intention when introducing a law that was intended to give equal opportunities to previously disadvantaged players.
But in attempting to make right the injustices of the past, are they not instead stripping other people of opportunities they truly deserve? We are a democratic country and favour should not be shown based on our past, but on our future.
In a rainbow nation we should see in colour, not in black and white.