South Africa’s White Sportsmen Are Talented But Also Guilty Of Consolidating Whiteness By Cheryl Roberts

20 Feb

White people in South Africa – most white people – have never wanted to connect sport and society in South Africa, preferring to have an opinion that sports and society were separated. This is how they argued and defended their white privilege and apartheid favouritism during the apartheid era.

When defending themselves and apartheid sport, whites said that South Africa should be allowed to play international sport with the rest of the world, that they didn’t do any wrong by playing sport in apartheid South Africa. And they never called out the social, economic and racial injustices in South Africa. They never did. They claimed they had to obey the laws of the government and the country.

White sports people played sport with those who supported and enacted apartheid’s horrendous laws, never denouncing apartheid as cruel and inhumane.

For white sportsmen like Gary Player, Joost van der Westhuizen and Ernie Els, their profiles as world class sportsmen were built on foundations of them being white and privileged and favoured in South Africa, a country that fiercely looked after the white group and viciously humiliated the majority blacks with oppression and exploitation.

At least three of South Africa’s world class white sportsmen Gary Player, Joost van der Westhuizen and Ernie Els, represent white male superiority in sport. Playing golf in the 1950’s and 1960’s with Papwa Sewgolum, one of South Africa’s greatest black golfers, Player never could make himself believe in black golf talent. When Papwa Sewgolum beat him in the Natal Open golf tournament in the late 50’s, Player very quickly chose to check Sewgolum’s score card, thinking he ‘might have cheated to win’. Player didn’t stop white golf officials from handing Sewgolum his championship trophy through the window, on a rainy day in Durban, because only whites were allowed into the club house.

Talented Springbok rugby player Joost van der Westhuizen played his international rugby in white-dominated Springbok teams and got to show his rugby prowess in post-apartheid sports competition. Joost never ever spoke out and questioned the white domination of players in the men’s Springbok team. For white players like van der Westhuizen, the Springbok men’s team belonged to and was owned by white players. That was white people’s ownership and heritage. Actually, when critical questions were raised by society about lack of black Springbok players, Joost van der Westhuizen was one of those white players who believed ‘black players had to prove themselves’.

Champion golfer Ernie Els got to represent a free and democratic South Africa on the on the international golf courses but Els never spoke out against apartheid’s legacy of structural economic and racial inequalities.

All three white sportsmen never publicly supported the African national Congress (ANC), the country’s liberation organisation and political winner in national elections but they would did endorse Nelson Mandela.

Springbok great Joost van der Westhuizen has passed away, never having called for an end to white Springbok teams and for black players to be represented in Springbok rugby team. Then there’s the other two of Gary Player and Ernie Els; still living and putting their views out there.

The world of humanity and freedom and justice has attacked and called out USA President Donald trump for his sexism, racism, religious prejudice, misogyny. But not SA’s two great white golfers Gary Player and Ernie Els.

8cheryl roberts  in the rain forest in ghana

Cheryl Roberts (writer of the blog)

They both go along and play golf with Donald Trump, refuse to call out the man for his prejudices, racism, misogyny and say ‘it all seems okay with him while glowing in admiration for him.

Undoubtedly, white sportsmen like Player, van der Westhuizen and Els have performed admirably and claimed exceptional feats on the sports stage. But their protection of whiteness in sport, their blinkered view of the correlation between sports and society, their relationships with people who are known to be racists, misogynists and perpetrators of white domination in sport will forever place them in that gallery of sportspeople who had no critical consciousness, had no heart to talk out against racial and colour injustices in sport and society. Sportsmen such as these white men South Africans will always be known as defending all that existed to preserve whiteness and white hegemony.

SAFA Must Prioritise Advancing Women’s Football By Cheryl Roberts

14 Feb

If you raise critical questions about the state of women’s football in South Africa, the custodian of organised girls and women’s football in SA, the South African football Association will very quickly reply something about how they are ‘doing a lot’ for women’s football.

SAFA have, over the past two years, given more attention and budget to women’s football with the utilisation of experienced foreign women coaches, much more international matches for the senior national women’s team and doing on-time-payments to Banyana Banyana.

But, it’s the national women’s team, that has disappointed and hasn’t returned expected dividends from the investments.

Banyana didn’t qualify for the 2015 Women’s World Cup, they finished 4th at AWC in Namibia in 2014, they qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics, a feat they had before accomplished under a male coach. They couldn’t score goals at the Olympics, despite having good international match preparation leading up to the Olympics, yet they scored at the 2012 London Olympics with a male coach at the helm.

They come back from the Olympics having played much more international matches and been in national camp much more than any other African women’s football playing country, yet Banyana displayed one of their worst performances at the 2016 AWC in Cameroon. At this prestige continental women’s football event, with a South African woman as interim head coach, Banyana Banyana finished in an embarassing 4th position; a tournament they were expected to win, given all the training and international matches they had done.

And then you get some SAFA officials falsely believing Banyana Banyana being the ‘best team’ at 2016 AWC; this despite a disgusting 4th position result. How can you be ‘the best team’ when you didn’t win or qualify for the finals? If you were the best team how come Banyana players were not signed up for the lucrative women’s football leagues outside of Africa?

That’s not all. Afer all their training and international matches, Banyana dropped to position 51 on FIFA’s women’s world rankings.

When will the national women’s football league be established so women footballers can play the sport full-time and get paid salaries instead of playing international football as part-timers? When will SAFA appoint coaches who can coach Banyana Banyana into a winning team on the African continent and take Banyana into the world’s top 20?

In my opinion, SAFA should rather shift focus on establishing the national women’s professional league, using the money spent on Banyana to develop much more depth of players. After a season of professional women’s football, talent identification should be done and a Banyana Banyana team/squad selected.

Forget about the present Banyana team; most are ageing and not delivering the international feats expected of them. Why concentrate on veteran players when they are nowhere near being world class and when the youth players have more chances of  being developed into world class footballers? Develop a young and emerging team instead of hoping for victories from a team taking up most of the national women’s football budget and not having the skills or football prowess to deliver. SAFA says look at Banyana’s reasults, they are losing by a few goals to the world’s best football countries. Is Banyana playing only to display how closely they lose so as to claim their improvement? No, it shouldn’t be like that! Look at Banyana’s performances in AWC events. The Banyana captain fortunately only now got an outside-of-Africa club signing. If she was of world class pedigree why didn’t she get one before, years ago? West Africa’s young women footballers are being signed up outside of Africa. Why about Banyana Banyana players?

And what about the u20 women’s and u17 girls teams? Why are they not in regular competition? Over the past two years, both women’s football youth teams didn’t qualify for their respective age group world cups. European countries are playing u17 internationals whilst South Africa’s youth women’s football teams are not engaged in international competition. Southern African football can’t even organise a nations cup tournament for u17 and u20 women’s football; yet Southern African women’s football is expected to advance in Africa.

Is SAFA’s  R6 million a year high performance training project in Pretoria really delivering the results? How do players get selected to be based at the high performance centre? Is it provincial recommendation or someone just contacts someone at SAFA and says ‘I have a teenage girl for the high performance centre’.

And then there’s the selection of national players, around which much discontent and anger exists amongst women footballers around South Africa. Club favouritsm in national selection of all women’s football teams must be eliminated! The best players must be chosen to play international football! As an example a team that has the most Banyana players at the national play-offs in December 2016 couldn’t win the SA title!

These critical questions are being raised and asked because we are being fed propaganda about the state of women’s football in SA under SAFA. An intelligent person with a sharp mind must be scouted and appointed to take women’s football forward in SA; someone with ideas that will advance elite women’s football. Is there a woman coach in SA that can make Banyana a winning team?  SAFA mustn’t hide these questions; they must answer them brutally, truthfully and honestly.

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Cheryl Roberts (writer of the blog)

Why Are South Africa’s Anti-Apartheid Sports Women Erased And Ignored In Memorialisation By Cheryl Roberts

5 Feb

The role and contribution of

8cheryl roberts  in the rain forest in ghana

Cheryl Roberts (writer of the blog)

oppressed and black women in sport, to South Africa’s struggle for freedom from apartheid and a democratic country, is largely undocumented, almost invisible and largely ignored.

In South Africa, there’s no national or provincial or city galleries or museums existing in memory of the black women who participated in anti-apartheid sport and helped advance the struggle for freedom in South Africa, largely through sport.

The memory bank in existence for this documentation, memory and knowledge is in the personal archives of the women participants themselves, in their families and the communities of sport in which they not only played and enjoyed their sport, but also resisted apartheid in sport and society.

The democratic era of participation in Sport in south Africa just found no time or space to give honour, respect and acknowledgement to the women who existed in anti-apartheid sports resistance, being the foundation and rock of sports development when the apartheid regime sought to advance only apartheid/whites only  sport.

Without this visual and written documentation and memorialisation of the role and contribution of women in anti-apartheid sport, there exists the perception that oppressed and black women didn’t play sport before 1994, that black girls and women only got involved in organised sports and sport’s activities in democratic South Africa.

Just like white women, Black women have been involved in sport for over a century; They have been in rugby and cricket clubs, played hockey and softball, swam the pool in competitions and been on the athletics track, and many other sports.

Black women have been sports leaders and officials, showed sports talent and prowess when competing, assisted men-dominated sports teams like rugby and cricket with support and encouragement. Participating in sport where men were in control in leadership positions, the women were given roles which the men-dominated officialdom thought best fits their ‘role in the home and society’ such as catering and food provision at meetings, typing of minutes and meeting information and being partners when the men officials attended events and functions.

Black women in sport have been amongst the founding members of anti-apartheid sports organizations in South Africa. Although primary documents will reveal men officials as executive committee members, presidents and secretaries, the women were forming clubs at community and grassroots levels of participation in sport. But this anti-apartheid sport involvement of black women took place in a patriarchal, male-dominated society which impacted the visibility of women in leadership positions and officialdom in sport.

But the women played their role and made their contribution to anti-apartheid sport and the creation of South Africa’s democratic era. It was the women as wives, girlfriends, mothers, aunts, family and community members who were the rock of anti-apartheid sport, who endured their husbands and partners were able to participated in sport while they did the household chores and prepared the men for their roles in sport.

Oppressed girls and women were able to participate in sport albeit in under-resourced and disadvantaged communities and schools. And they chose to play anti-apartheid sport and resist apartheid in society.

It was women who helped with setting up meeting venues, providing the food at meetings and conferences, hosted meetings at their homes, prepared the children, youth and men for their sports participation. It was the women who did the cheering on at sports events and the fundraising. And it was the women who cared for the family home when the men were playing sport and resisting apartheid sport. There are those who will say ‘forget the past and let it be’. Why should we just forget the past when it’s because of the past that you today enjoy international sports and play sport in democratic South Africa? Who laid this foundation for you? Who resisted apartheid and challenged the apartheid regime so apartheid could be eliminated? It was the oppressed women involved in apartheid sport, those women who helped build and develop non-racial sport from grassroots levels of participation.

And most of those women are still living, many of them still involved in community and club sport. And they still participate in sport just for the passion, with no payment. So how about some honour and recognition, a national gallery of memory that will ensure the pivotal contribution of anti-apartheid sportswomen and women in sport to South Africa’s freedom, will never be erased?

Centering Black Women In Sport Is Black Woman Justice By Cheryl Roberts

31 Jan

I’m sometimes asked why do I differentiate between women in sport; why do I refer to women as black women in sport and black sportswomen when ‘all are women in sport’. So here’s my response….

8cheryl roberts  in the rain forest in ghana

Cheryl Roberts (writer of the blog)

Without going into the historical analysis of women in society – as this is an Op-Ed (opinion article), not a postgrad essay – let me lay it down from the start and state that not all women are women of the same social and economic lives; it’s their social positioning and skin colour which differentiates women. Black women are subjected to much, much more discrimination and exploitation than white women and this discrimination is carried out in sport.

I center black women in my writings, talks, resistance and activism in sport and society because black women are the most discriminated against and treated as if they hardly exist.

Yes, I do acknowledge that gender inequalities and discrimination affect women in sport and impact on all sportswomen. But these inequalities and discrimination impact much, much more on black women in sport!

Black sportswomen and black women in sport have for over a century and more, not only been victims of the harshest discrimination; they have also been viciously marginalised and kept on the sidelines, out of positions of power.

Admittedly, 2016 in South African sport produced world class, Olympic and world champion black sportswomen. But this doesn’t mean that black sportswomen are given their rightful support, encouragement and assistance within South Africa’s sports paradigm.

With South Africa’s male-dominated and controlled sports network, black women in sport are placed mostly at the bottom of the sports paradigm. Look at national positions on national federations like swimming, athletics, cricket, rugby, football. Where are the black African women? Officialdom and leadership of SASCOC increased women’s numbers at the SASCOC elections held late last year. Black African women were available for election. But not one Black African woman got elected onto SASCOC; and this by a council that is mostly white-dominated.

Get this! White women – most of them, not all of them – represent themselves, their white privilege and their inherited life that their whiteness is privileged and must be looked after and supported.

We rarely have white women speaking out against the system that discriminates against black African women, then marginalises them and keeps them floating in non-supported sports environments.

And what about this reality? White people don’t see any inhumanity or racial injustices when national and provincial sports teams are mostly white or just about all white like in swimming, tennis and netball. Do we hear white people talking about and calling out the invisibility of black African women in sports teams and sports officialdom?

Yes, women have to struggle and compete and challenge for their place at the sports table. But white women don’t have to struggle as much as black African women. This is because white women are protected by their inherited and historical white privilege and whiteness which guarantees them preferential support and recognition.

There’s the examples of SA’s Paralympic champion, Zanele Situ and world boxing champion, Noni Tenge and world class netballer Pumza Maweni. These black African sportswomen have excelled in sport, are achievers and represent black woman prowess in sport, yet they are ignored and unsupported by corporate and sponsors. Not one of these achieving sportswomen have made a million rand in sport, despite their sports achievements indicating they should have.

Black sportswomen are not seen as being ‘commercial partners’ for corporates; they are also not viewed as being able to sell products and make profits for corporate businesses. This, because they have the wrong skin colour and hair and are not ‘fabulously sexy’, through the corporate lens.

Our resistance and activism must challenge the marginalisation and invisibility of black African women in leadership positions in sport and in national teams, especially where women are present in those sports.

To talk about women in sport without emphasising and centering black women is to further marginalise and suffocate black women in sport. Mentioning women as sportswomen and women in sport is to ignore the racial and class inequalities in sport, to falsely think that all women face the same levels of discrimination and inequalities. But this is not so. White women in sport don’t face the same sustained discrimination as black women in sport!

From the moment a black working class girl wants to play sport, her struggles are different from a white girl’s participation in sport. The black working class girl must battle for money to get football and rugby boots, to pay registration fees, have transport money and to be kept in sport. The white girl in sport is about ‘where we going to eat after training’, ‘what time is she being picked up after sport’ and ‘let’s go buy me the latest tennis racquet’.

I center black women in sport because black sportswomen are not only not given the media coverage and corporate support as that given to white women but because black women are not perceived as being able to exemplify sports prowess, despite us witnessing the achievements and amazing feats such as that accomplished by Caster Semenya, Zanele Situ, Noni Tenge and Pumza Maweni.

Most importantly, I center black women in sport because it’s a gender injustice to center white women in sport! White sportswomen are not the only women capable of achieving in sport; black women are just as capable, given the necessary supportive environment.

 

Dear White People In South African Sport – From Cheryl Roberts (Sport And Resistance Lifetime Change Agent/Activist)

15 Jan

You have been so accustomed to privilege, power, oppressing blacks, believing in the myth of  your white superiority and myth of black inferiority that you believe this white privilege is bestowed upon you forever in South African sport; just because you have a white skin.

This superior, yet vastly outdated mindset is that white supremacist attitude, behavior and thinking is inherited and carried down through generations. It precludes you from living humanely and knowing that all people, irrespective of colour, are human and that no one skin colour is above or supreme to another.

I start by telling you this because I want to go on and tell you how you have brought this false sense of white supreme being into South African sport and into the democratic life of post-apartheid South Africa; out of the horrendous apartheid era that you so happily and without criticism, supported and benefitted from.

Despite our telling you that blacks have been playing organised sport for over a century and more in South Africa, you refuse to take this into that head of yours, as authentic information and lived experiences of black people and their sports narratives.

When we remind you of the organisation, advancement and talent of oppressed blacks in the apartheid decades, despite the horrors and atrocities that the apartheid regime subjected oppressed black people, you refuse to acknowledge the oppressed sports narratives, as told to you by those who know them and participated in oppressed sport.

You go on and on about how you were denied chances to play international sport when apartheid South Africa was being boycotted internationally, yet you refuse to admit how apartheid South Africa made, supported, assisted and advanced white people, the minority population group whilst harshly and inhumanely oppressing and exploiting the black majority grouping of people, who are amongst South Africa’s indigenous people.

So, you as white people don’t like to be reminded of the apartheid times when you reigned supreme, fasely believed in your white supremacy and when you were outright racists.

We came into the democratic period of South Africa’s life and you insisted on believing in white supremacy, particularly in sports such as cricket, rugby, hockey, swimming, golf, netball and all the other sports that are white-dominated, supported and controlled.

Abundant talent has always been there, amonst black sports people; not only in the post-apartheid years, but years and decades before.

World class talents existed when blacks were being viciously oppressed. But these talents were not only stifled and unsupported by corporate and white sponsors/businesses who exploited blacks, they were used as change agents to move out of the horrific apartheid system into a democratic period.

I have told you this before in my many writings and talks that black and oppressed people chose to play anti-apartheid sport, chose not to support apartheid sport and agitated and fought for a freedom from apartheid.

We sacrificed our sports lives and sports talent so that all of South Africa and all South Africans, that includes you, too could be given a fair and honest chance to represent South Africa legitimately and as a democratic country, not as a pariagh and boycotted apartheid country. We did not fight for freedom so that only white people could benefit from democratic South Africa! We fought and challenged for all South Africa’s people.

Why do you assume that white privilege must prevail in sports such as cricket, netball, rugby, hockey, swimming and many other sports? Where do you get that false sense of belief that white people are the best sports administrators and officials? And, most importantly, when are you going to discard that mentality which informs you incorrectly and disingenuously that blacks must be perpetually ‘developed’ in sport, stay in development programmes until they retire from competitive sport, while you flourish from international selection and representation?

Why do you never or rarely see or acknowledge the talent and sports prowess of blacks? Why have there been massive dismissals of black talent in rugby, cricket, netball, swimming and hockey? Whenever blacks are selected into national teams and for international representation, they are viewed through your white supremacist lens as being ‘token and quota’ players; this in your white privileged mind meaning ‘players of inferior ability and quality to white players’.

By assuming your white supreme being as being the best in South African sport, you are de-mobilising your ability to understand that white supremacy must be smashed, that it should not exist and that it’s not going to flourish in sport in South Africa.

This doesn’t mean that whites won’t be selected to provincial and national individual seletion and in sports teams! What you must understand and comprehend is that talent exists amongst and within all communities and colours of people. Just because most whites go to better and richer resourced schools and play at elite and well-maintained sports clubs, does not give you a complimentary ticket to claim white supreme representation in sport. So when you say that you are being done in because of ‘the quota policy’, effectively you are admitting to your white supremacist thinking which believes your whiteness is superior and blacks are inferior.

C’mon now. How long you gonna take to eliminate from yourself and your being this attitude and thinking? How much longer you gonna go on with a false sense of your existence? I tell you, you are messing up your mental health. You get all agitated and angry when black selection is dominant and being noticed. You don’t acknowledge this as black talent. Why?

Throughout the past 25 years, we have called for the recognition of black talent, emphasising it existed and should not be easily discarded or ignored. We also didn’t dismiss white sports talent; if whites have the talent, they must be selected.

If blacks dominate the provincial and national netball, football, hockey, rugby and cricket teams it’s because blacks are the majority population and they are showing the most talent; this ahead of white talent.

Get this! Those whites who still hold onto supremacist attitiudes and thinking can go on being disgruntled and talking amongst their white selves. Black sports alent exists and must not be ignored or discarded. White privilege in South African sport must be smashed out of the sports paradigm! Whites either accept this or pack up and go try play outside South Africa.

8cheryl roberts  in the rain forest in ghana

Cheryl Roberts (writer of the letter ‘Dear White people In South African sport’

White Cricketers Fearful Of Black Cricket Talent And Selection In South Africa By Cheryl Roberts

6 Jan

White Cricketers Leaving South Africa Because White Privilege In South African  Cricket Has Been De-Mobilised

When the blacks in cricket (all those not white skinned or white) were inhumanely and unjustly ignored, marginalised, almost ostracised and used largely as development fodder in South Africa’s post-apartheid era cricket, white people never spoke out for their representation and selection. When black cricketers got selected and given an ‘opportunity’ to play provincial and national selection, whites doubted the black player’s ability to play internationally. Now that the black cricketers, after much protest and anger and vehement calls for black recognition in SA cricket, have not only broken the selection barriers, but are performing world class and match winning feats, white cricketers are feeling un

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SA International Cricketer Temba Bavuma (photo by Cheryl Roberts)

easy, almost getting terrified.

This uneasiness has nothing to do with their acknowledgement of black player talent and cricket prowess; its the truth getting told to themselves that BLACK  CRICKETERS  CAN  PLAY  AND PERFORM  INTERNATIONALLY.

Granted, elite sports persons treat professional sport as a job that gives them an income and so they move around and take on increased and lucrative playing contracts. So when South African internationals move, because of what is a perceived as better income, they are behaving as opportunistic and mercenary sports persons. In the era of professional, capitalist society, that is their right.

It has now again occurred with two of South Africa’s white cricketers, Kyle Abbott and Riley Roussouw who have opted for contracts in another country but which also prohibits them from representing their country whilst under this playing contract.

South Africa’s elite rugby players, most of them Springboks have over the years been choosing the option of playing outside South Africa because they earn much more money and also, which they don’t admit, because they fear black player selection. Abbott and Roussouw re not the first white cricketers; there have been several before them. These white people in sport use their ancestral lineage of countries outside South Africa to get the sports recognition they assume they deserve ahead of black sports persons.Then they speak out, like England’s adopted Kevin Petersen and chant against blacks playing international cricket as if cricket is white people’s sole preserve.

Let’s unpack this with honesty and integrity. Now that black cricketers in both coaching and player spheres are being justly recognised and selected, representatives of the white privilege brigade in SA cricket are beginning to feel uncomfortable; this is something coming on from a long time ago.

Exemplifying racism and racial privilege, they have screamed and shouted out about what they termed the ‘political selection’ through the quota policy, of black cricketers as if cricket in South Africa is the preserve and ownership of their white privilege.

Over 20 years ago, coming out of their indoctrinated and privileged apartheid lives that subordinated and oppressed black people, the white cricket group struggled to believe in black cricket talent. For white people, blacks in cricket meant they had to be in perpetual development programmes and events, shown as fodder for white corporates to sponsor and keep alive white cricket, whilst throwing some money at development blacks in cricket.

Now that the black cricketers have not only taken their opportunities and are proving they can play and perform, several of them with admiable feats ad achievements, the white cricketers are beginning to feel they are being dealt unfairly for black numbers and selection.

No! White cricketers in SA are not being treated unjustly or unfairly. They are selected to play according to their worth and prowess.And they must perform; failure to do so leads to selection of inform provincial and emerging players. And the players who are claiming selection places are the black players from across South Africa.

So how does the white cricket group interpret this? They don’t rightfully and honestly acknowledge the worth of black cricket talent in SA; they go on rants that throw de-humanising arrows at black cricketers as being mere quota players and political selections. Although, screaming and shouting down black cricketers while protecting their inherited and perceived white privilege, this white cricket group has no protest power.

This is because white privilege in SA cricket selection has been arrested, convicted and de-mobilised. Years ago the quota policy of certain numbers of black players forced selection to recognise black cricket talent. Black cricketers came through provincial cricket and into the national team, albeit in small numbers. One black player was supposed to appease protest calls for black cricket recognition and advancement. White players, several of them mediocre and favoured, were still protected and given much more space, encouragement and opportunities to develop internationally while black cricketers were too quickly discarded as not being internationally ready.

When white cricketers look around and see the increasing rate of selection of black players at youth and senior level, they see their white privilege being attacked and eliminated, not by quota policies but world class black talent. Now their white privilege mindset, so ingrained in their privileged lives, begins to tell them they are being discarded and ignored for black political sports representation in a country that is black majority governed. Now they are shifting their presence elsewhere, out of the country where they developed their cricket.

Yes, it’s the player’s prerogative; there’s no restrictions on movement from one country or club to another. Elite and professionals do this. When players do this, some acknowledge it’s for security and their future incomes. But never has a white player honestly and correctly said that the increasing black cricket talent is rightfully being acknowledged and he’s scared of not being adequate anough to get international selection.

This won’t be the last of white cricketers taking up lucrative contracts outside SA. There’ll be much more in the years to come. At the same time, we should see much more black players playing international cricket at youth and senior levels. But Cricket South Africa’s officialdom must not give in to white privilege fears and aspirations and white corporates who want to control and manipulate white power of cricket in SA. White privilege in SA cricket has been effectively de-mobilised and it must never be allowed root to flourish and grow.

 

Celebrate 2016 As The Year Of Phenomenal Black Sportswoman Achievement For South Africa By Cheryl Roberts

29 Dec

In reviewing the year I celebrate and emphasise South Africa’s fabulous black sportswomen who claimed global recognition, world triumph and recognition for our country and continent, Africa. I want to center the black woman’s sports prowess and sports achievement in a year of exceptional honour and accomplishment, despite the chains that black sportswomen carry.

This was not only a year of phenomenal sports prowess from South Africa’s sportswomen. It was a year of fabulous sports feats and achievements, especially from elite black sportswomen.

Never before has South Africa, in one year, boasted a black woman Olympic champion, a black woman Paralympic medallist and a black woman world boxing champion. These were the awesome sports feats of Caster Semenya (athletics), Zanele Situ (Paralympic athlete) and Noni Tenge (boxing). Coupled with these world triumphs and accomplishments are those of recognised world class netballer Pumza Maweni.

In a year that saw the spectacular feats of male athlete Wayde van Niekerk and male cricketer Kagiso Rambada, the black woman’s sports achievements are not celebrated as hugely and admirably as befitting the black sportswomen.

The sports achievements of Semenya, Situ, Tenge and Maweni have been written about and broadcasted, but they still don’t dominate the sports headlines in a country where sport profiling is vehemently male-centered, controlled and idolised.

Over the past two decades, I’ve written much about the struggles and hardships of black girls and women in sport in South Africa; how their socio-economic status and black gender and skin impacts on their access to opportunities in sport, from grassroots to elite participation.

In the post-apartheid, democratic South Africa, much more opportunities have been created for black girls and black women to participate in sport. However, most of this participation is not consolidated. Much as the participation avenues are opened up, future development and growth is also blocked, as access to required funding for elite sports preparation is hard to come by and is every black sportswoman’s struggle.

Athletics and netball are the popular sports for black girls and women; this is where they are concentrated. It is these sports that must produce the elite black women sports champions. Undoubtedly, this year was massive achievement for black sportswomen in athletics and netball; especially with 2016 being an Olympic and Paralympic year.

Yet, despite these fantastic world triumphs and recognition, South Africa’s black sportswomen still go unnoticed by those corporate sponsors that associate their companies with sport.

Why has Zanele Situ, Noni Tenge and Pumza Maweni not got corporate sponsorship and funding? Why are these highly achieving, amongst the best in the world black sportswomen, not achieved millionaire status as they deserve from sports earnings like white sportsmen and some black sportsmen? Why has Caster Semenya not being signed up by corporates and businesses after her phenomenal 2016 Olympic achievement and athletics feats?

It’s because they are black sportswomen and black women in sport, and black women are not recognised for their sports prowess and ability but are dissed, ignored and marginalised because they seemingly don’t fit the requirements of largely white owned corporates and advertising!

With 2016 being the year of these outstanding feats and honours, it would be easy to assume that black girls and women are being supported with corporate funding assistance and government backing. This is not so; indeed, the participation paradigm still reveals struggles to go from national level onto international sports domains.

What Semenya, Situ, Tenge and Maweni displayed and continue to do, are their talents and determination to overcome. This could not go unnoticed within sports federations as these women athletes broke the barriers, just with their talent. But what about the talented, yet struggling and battling young black sportswomen, those who are emerging as national youth and junior champions? Is there a secure future for them or will they be lost somewhere in the middle of the sports system?

Black women can achieve in sport, all the way to claiming Olympic and Paralymic gold medals, as Caster Semenya showed in 2016 and Zanele Situ in 2000 at the Sydney Paralympics. However, we want the black woman to be supported in sport, for her existence to be acknowledged and not marginalised.

2016 was a year of awesome sports joy for South Africa and our elite black sportswomen of Semenya, Situ, Tenge and Maweni are right up with their remarkable contribution to sports achievement. It’s because of these fabulous black sportswomen, that my cup ranneth over with black sportswoman joy and pride in 2016. This is my acknowledgement of the fabulous 2016 black sportswoman year.

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South Africa’s phenomenal black sportswomen in 2016: Zanele Situ, Caster Semenya, Noni Tenge