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What it means to be South Africa’s National eSports team

MSSA

I don’t think many gamers grasp the importance and honour it is to represent South Africa in eSports. It’s exactly the same as being selected as the National cricket or rugby team.

I’ve really struggled to find any information about it and had lots of questions as I’m sure many gamers do. The truth is that we just don’t really know anything about it and because we don’t, we can only make assumptions, many of which are wrong. I’ve come to learn that being that National Team or receiving National Colours for eSports is a hell of a lot more than people realise. I forwarded some of my questions to the president of the MSSA, Colin Webster. I’m hoping this can help gamers understand a little bit more about it. 

What’s the difference between officially representing South Africa in eSports and just naming your team the National Team?

When you officially represent South Africa in eSports, you get either National Federation Colours or Protea Colours. When you just name your team as a national team and you have not been properly selected, the media, public at large, etc. do not care what your achievements are. A properly selected team will have their results archived, and the results, if good enough can be used for other awards at government level. Unfortunately, results obtained by an unofficial team are never included in such events. The Colours that an official team has been awarded are almost as good as currency. When players are awarded National or Protea Colours, such gamers are also able to apply for sports bursaries.

What rules or code of conduct does the National Team have to follow?

The Code of Conduct that a team has to follow is an amalgamation of what the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) and the National Federation expects. Obviously the player representing South Africa has to hold him/herself to a higher standard as people tend to judge all South Africans by the few that they actually meet. The Code of Conduct is not onerous, but largely common-sense. In short, it is how you would expect someone to behave if they were representing you!

Are there any legal implications for any rules broken when selected as the National Team?

All members who are selected to, and join, a national team are given a contract to sign. If the gamer has not yet reached the age of majority, the legal guardian signs the contract. Essentially, if the rules are broken, there may be a financial implication as well as a disciplinary implication. Depending on the severity of the breach, action may be taken by the International Federation concerned, SASCOC, or by the National Federation. As we have seen over recent years, even the Minister of Sport may become involved should the Minister feel that the situation requires his input.

Are there any legal implications when a team not affiliated with the MSSA, name themselves the National Team or even Team South Africa?

Certainly there are legal implications. Many South Africans seem oblivious to the fact that the government is the owner of the name and all insignia relating to South Africa. National Federations through their status and accreditation are entitled to use such name and certain logos for national teams. While the government might turn a blind eye to the use of the flag, etc. during moments of national fervour ( 2010 world Cup and Afcon 2012), the government jealously guards the way in which the symbols of South Africa are used. Thus an unofficial team trying to pass itself off as a representative team may find itself having to justify it’s actions to the government. Even National Federations that use the national symbols without proper approval face the ire and wrath of the government.

When a team is selected by the MSSA as the National Team, what does the MSSA do for them?

The MSSA’s eSports teams probably get the lion’s share due to eSports being more marketable than the other disciplines. Most of the MSSA’s eSports teams are given all of their kit free, the teams that travel also have all their accommodation and travelling costs paid on their behalf. Thus, every MSSA team that has attended the WCG and IeSF events since 2005 has only had to worry about their own spending money. The same remains true for the team that the MSSA sent to Namibia. Unfortunately, the MSSA is not a rich body, so the MSSA has to budget carefully, and often has to just ‘make-do’ with what is available. Of course, the greater the membership, the more that can be achieved!

What’s the difference between the MSSA and a government body running eSports?

All sport in South Africa is run according to the Sport and Recreation Act of 1998 (as amended). According to the Act, the bodies that are recognised by the government and by the Department are the sole authority for the sports under their control.

However this is a good thing!

All sports are run according to their own Constitutions which are decided upon by their members.

Thus it is the very people who have the biggest interest in the sport who have the say in what happens. It is the members that decide what happens, it is the members that elect the officials and it is the members that provide the vision for years to come.

Also, because of the legal nature of the federations, no one owns a federation. Thus federations are free of the ownership issues that haunt the privately owned companies.

Gamers claim that there is too much “politics” involved with affiliating with the MSSA, is this true? What kind of politics is involved?

All of life is of a political nature! As soon as you negotiate the purchase of a bus ticket you have entered into the political life of the country. Thus it is true that there is politics inherent in the system. But the politics that are there are for the betterment of the game and its players. Because of the politics, members can negotiate from time-to-time the introduction of new titles, the attendance of the team at different events and so forth and so on. Without politics, you would have an overbearing despot ordering things to happen without the option of negotiation.

Thus the nature of the politics in the MSSA is getting agreements between the interested parties. The only people who are dissatisfied with how the meetings are run are those who want everything done their way and those who cannot see the other person;s point of view. All decisions are made through voting, and it is the majority opinion that holds sway!

What’s the difference between officially representing our country in eSports and representing our country in any other sport, for example Rugby?

There is no difference between officially representing South Africa in eSports to any other sport. eSports are now an officially accredited sport, and the Protea Colours that are awarded are awarded by the same Protea Colours Board that awards Protea Colours for all other sports.

What restrictions are there for the National team?

The criteria for choosing a team which will only be awarded National Federation Colours are less, and not as stringent, as those for a National Team that is awarded Protea Colours. A team without Protea Colours for example does not have to comply with the passport requirement. No player can be awarded the Protea emblem if he/she does not have a South African passport, although support staff do not need to meet such a requirement.

Is the national team allowed to enter private tournaments for example the Do Gaming League or MyGaming Dota 2 SECS?

The MSSA allows all of its National Team Members to enter any competition that they want to. However, the National team Member must, and can, only represent a clan that is currently affiliated to the MSSA. Thus, for example, Joe Bloggs is a member of the National Team, he is affiliated to Clan A which is a member of the MSSA, that means he cannot play for any clan that is not affiliated to the MSSA. Should a clan that is not a member of the MSSA indulge in ambush marketing by claiming that he is a member, the MSSA will expect the player to publicly renounce any such claim.

When a team is selected to be the National Team, is the team allowed to belong to an existing clan?

A player will only be selected to represent South Africa if he is a member of a club affiliated to the MSSA, so that is really not an issue!

Gamers use the excuse of past mistakes to not affiliate with the MSSA, why should they do so now?

It is a sad world if you are always going to be judged on your past! There comes a time in everybody’s life when they have to re-evaluate what they believe. Certainly the MSSA made some mistakes in the past, but a lot of what it did was right. If a gamer is of the belief that they can do better, good, welcome aboard…..

Everybody who feels that they have something that they want to put back into eSports should join. If you want the accreditation for being a great player, you should join.

Those who join will have the wonderful adventure of being part of something that will leave a legacy for others, you should join.

There are just so many reasons why a person should join….

Knowing that eSports is an officially accredited sport makes me realize that we should start treating it that way, meaning that we shouldn’t always start kicking and screaming at the mention of the word government. At the moment we still have a say, we are able to shape the sport as we see best and we really should do so. If every one just brushes it off, it might happen in the future that our freedom to help steer the sport in the right direction maybe taken away.

We wanted eSports to be as important and big as other sports in the country for a long time, not knowing that it already was. The only reason it’s not taking off or hasn’t done so in the past already as we would like it to, is because we as gamers have been too stubborn to get in there and make things happen.

For more information about affiliating or the MSSA, you can check out their Wiki page, or you could download the pack needed to affiliate with the MSSA here. In this pack you should find:

  1. The MSSA’s Constitution,
  2. The MSSA’s General Regulations,
  3. The MSSA’s Discipline Specific Regulations,
  4. The Application for Affiliation Form,
  5. The Fee note for the 2013 Fiscal Year,
  6. Player Registration Form,
  7. A proforma constitution,
  8. and The MSSA’s Letter of Undertaking.  

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Author:Yolanda Green

I like bacon and games, and occasionally I say something coherent about it. I'm not old or cynical, and I'm not the Dork Knight. I AM SHE-RA! Wait, what?


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