Archive | April, 2013

Powerful Women are Not Necessarily Heroines By Cheryl Roberts

10 Apr

Margaret Thatcher showed that not all powerful women are heroines for women. I have no respect for those women whom, when they have some sort of power, go all out to trample the lives of working class women. And I certainly have no respect for women who use their power to abuse, bully and suffocate women ‘subordinates’ (this especially happens in the work situation, particularly in government and corporate sectors). And I don’t have respect for women who seemingly think they ‘have arrived and achieved’, but don’t support women also hoping to ‘arrive and achieve’ and women’s struggles.

In the wake of Margaret Thatcher’s transitioning from this earth, I place into my context, women heroines and how we celebrate women. The first woman prime minister of Britain, Margaret Thatcher certainly was. However, Margaret Thatcher is a perfect example of a woman who attained power, but didn’t use that power to further unshackle women’s chains or advance women. Thatcher, by using her power to prop up the male-dominated world of the rich, elite and capitalists, showed a version of women, increasing in their power, who don’t use their power to protect women.

What I do know, through my observation of contestation battles with those in power, being a woman doesn’t mean you necessarily support women’s struggles or challenge patriarchal domination. And this is because not all women have the same consciousness of the context of their gender within the patriarchal system.

Gender structure and make-up may ‘unite’ women as a gender. However, it’s becoming increasingly evident that layers of women are developing. And amongst these layers are women with varying consciousness in relation to women in society.

And these layers, although they come largely from struggle backgrounds of class, gender and class, are surfacing women who care more about their personal development, don’t have any interest or give support to women’s struggles. These women separate themselves from those who have a social justice consciousness and feminist expression.

Admittedly, I have not done any empirical research on this and have no research findings to back this up; my opinion here is based on observation. Through observation, I am becoming aware that an increasing number of women, when reaching higher career or money positions, are not associating with the struggles of women who are challenging male-dominated systems which oppress and suppress women’s leadership, organization and initiative.

Women are not connecting with each other because of shared and organic experiences of oppression and subsequent struggle. Its becoming an in our face thing, that class barriers are being erected around various groups of women. This can be seen in social justice activism of working class women, where these challenges to working class oppression are mounted by the unemployed, marginalized and vulnerable women, yet are not supported by the emerging middle class women and those elite bracket women.

So what does this mean for campaigns waged by women in the interest of working class women? Seemingly, women ride on the backs of women’s struggle and social justice activism by enjoying the rights once they are achieved, like gender equity in whatever sector. Yet, the women who benefit from these victories rarely, if at all, support ongoing struggle campaigns by and for women.

And then you get those women, who once they have attained some position of power, are more interested in keeping other women down, instead of assisting, encouraging and enabling women to achieve. There are those women who are content to be the only one with some sort of power.

Almost 20 years after achieving a non-racial, democratic government, which implemented gender equity through a progressive constitution and gave women their rightful gender spotlight, what has been happening in South Africa is that women have been advancing, some on their own efforts and battles, others via assistance through the system. Today, women are government officials, have high ranking civil servant positions, occupy powerful corporate positions, some are successful business women, others are emerging within business.

All women who have achieved have had the groundwork laid for them because of the struggles and campaigns conducted by women in the interest of all women. Yet, women do not want to acknowledge this. They are quite content to see themselves achieving and being seen as role models and torch bearers because of where they at. However, these women individually and as a group are significantly missing from the arenas and battle grounds of gender contestation which are ongoing in our South African society.

I can go on and on about women, privilege and power; what matters for this blog is that we must be on guard to know that not all women are united in unchaining women. Those women who have seemingly been unchained, yet remain under the yoke of patriarchal domination, are satisfied with their personal achievements and don’t show support or care for the millions who remain chained.

Whilst we should be honest and admit that some women are not supportive of women and their struggles, neither should we be scared or afraid to interrogate this situation as it confronts us. This honesty, reflection and interrogation will assist feminist and social justice activism and women’s struggles to know who is with us and who is against us. At this juncture, women are not the enemy as is male-domination, sexism and patriarchy: However, to failure to acknowledge the existence of those women who care only about their own advancement, will surely haunt future women’s struggles.

Having become aware of how women change and become absorbed into power structures and manipulative/bullying situations, the woman that I endeavour to be, hopes to never ever succumb to power which would be used to shut women down. Should I ever have the privilege of power in my hands, may I never use it to further oppress women who have no power, particularly vulnerable, struggling and disadvantaged women.

Women who use power to suppress and oppress women must be called OUT!      

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Respect For Non-Racial Sports Struggle By Cheryl Roberts

7 Apr

 

 Image

The anti-apartheid, non-racial sports struggle opposed apartheid sport and demanded non-racial sport. Non-racial sport called for a lifetime, if that is what it took before freedom arrived, of commitment to social change and the elimination of oppression. There are those who have no idea, and do not want to know anything, about this commitment or unselfish way of giving to engineer societal change in the interests of all South Africa’s people.

As we look back with pride on the past decades which have brought us to where we are today, we must applaud, honour, remember, acknowledge and celebrate the people who sacrificed their lives for freedom from oppression and for the emergence, from an unequal and unjust sports network, to the dawn of a new sports era and acceptance of South Africa as a legitimate country in the international arenas of sport.

Today, when we enjoy international sport, we must not forget those who made it possible for us to achieve international legitimacy and play international sport. We must remember with pride, honour and recognition the sacrifices made for non-racial sport and the fight against apartheid sport.

Several non-racial sport leaders chose a non-racial way of life when they were

teenagers and today, it’s because of these very choices and commitment for non-racial

sport, that we enjoy international sport, no more as pariahs, but as a non-racial, democratic South Africa.

Sports leaders like Chief Albert Luthuli, George Singh, Norman Middleton, RK Naidoo, Dan Twala, Rama Reddy, Cassim Bassa, Morgan Naidoo, Percy Sonn, Hassan Howa, Errol Vawda, SK Chetty, Frank van der Horst, Dan Qeqe, Colin Clarke, Abdullah Abbass, MN Pather, Danny Jordaan, Sam Ramsamy stand in a league of their own, together with the many women leaders in sports such as hockey, softball, school sport, athletics, provincial sports federations and clubs and the women who gave so much unselfish time to catering, typing the minutes and providing great support to partners, friends and family.

Non-racial sports leaders were not about money or material gain and personal wealth accumulation. They were about the struggle for a non-racial, democratic South Africa. They were not driven by money, profits or personal gratification and their entire lives were guided by non-racial principles, the fight against social inequalities and abuse of human rights and human injustices. Non-racial sports leaders could have gone on to become business citizens of South Africa, accumulating vast amounts of personal wealth, but they chose to give their whole and entire life to non-racial sport and a non-racial, democratic South Africa.

In the non-racial sports gallery and in the hearts and minds of millions of people, those who chose non-racial sport stand supreme for their contribution to the sports and liberation struggle. With minimal resources, they became efficient, astute administrators and non-racial sports leaders. Some of the fruits of their unselfish commitment and principles are being seen today but the trees planted by non-racial sport are yet to experience full bloom as we confront the challenges of creating a non-racial sports dispensation.

Non-racial sport has produced many outstanding, principled, articulate, unselfish sports leaders, administrators and athletes/players. Many non-racial sports leaders like MN Pather Morgan Naidoo, Colin Clarke, Krish Mackerdhuj, Khaya Majola, Errol Vawda, Bill Jardine, Percy Sonn had untimely deaths. These esteemed and principled non-racial people were giving vast amounts of their time and life to developing and consolidating non-racial sport, particularly at the crucial stage of post-sports unification.

We must forever honour and pay tribute to our anti-apartheid sports struggle and remember the sacrifices and principles of our leaders, officials, heroines and heroes who chose a difficult journey and sacrificed a lifetime for an equitable, non-racial sports dispensation in South Africa and should not allow our non-racial sports struggle to be easily erased or omitted from celebration and commemorations.

Playing non-racial sport meant that we played with human dignity and with no reference to one’s colour. Non-racial sport gave respectability to thousands of athletes, supporters, officials, administrators and the anti-apartheid communities who cherished an alternative to apartheid, racial sport.

Non-racial sport organised sportspeople under the banner of sport and not according to class, colour or race. Non-racial sport was about human dignity, it was about belief in all people as human beings and not in the superiority of whites or inferiority of blacks. Opposition to apartheid sport was about struggle for human dignity, for an equitable sports system and for all South Africans to have a chance to participate in sport and represent their country.

Non-racial sports leaders were so dedicated and committed to opposing the human indignity that was apartheid sport, that they sacrificed their lives for non-racial sport. There were no investment returns from being associated with non-racial sport; the only guarantee was that the oppressed were able to play non-racial sport.

Such was the commitment and sincerity of non-racial sports leaders that they gave much personal time and money to sport because non-racial sport was not sponsored nor had much money to survive. Many sports officials used their personal monies to pay for administrative costs without ever claiming expenses, and this went on for years at great expense to their personal families. Some leaders like RK Naidoo, even mortgaged their family home for non-racial sport.

Non-racial, anti-apartheid sport was played on dirty, uneven patches as playing fields and grounds and run-down, under-resourced halls in schools and oppressed communities but they were utilized with passion and produced talented sportspeople, many of whom would have achieved remarkably well in the world of international sport.

The majority of South Africans did not have proper and adequate sports amenities and facilities, government funding or sponsorship from business yet they organised and developed sport in the disadvantaged, oppressed and severely deprived communities. Talented sportswomen and sportsmen emerged from these communities but they received very little media recognition or sponsorship. Non-racial sport was organised to give dignity to black sportspeople and to advance non-racialism in sport and society instead of playing multi-national or multi-racial sport.

People who chose non-racial sport put principles above money and chose to advance a non-racial, democratic society where all South Africans are one nation, living in one country and are treated equally. Blacks got very few facilities at school and in communities under the apartheid regime but at least they played non-racial sport and contributed to the creation of our non-racial, democratic society. Millions of people fought for non-racial sport and for the liberation of South Africa.

Non-racial sport got little publicity and coverage in the few mainstream print media on offer. Publicity profiles increased when the print media launched “Extra” editions purposely for black readers and it was in these newspapers that non-racial sport was recorded. Most black journalists throughout South Africa were also committed to non-racial sport and wrote about the talent, achievements and records, victories and defeats of non-racial sport.

Brochures played a significant contribution in recording the annual history of all sports federations and brochures were produced for every national and provincial tournament and sometimes also for club events. These brochures were treasured items and every participant got a copy. Today, many people who participated in non-racial sport, have brochures dating back decades ago.

It was via the brochures that the history of the sports federation was passed down as information about the sport, its leaders and champions and it was via the tournament brochure that the principles and policies of non-racial sports were transmitted. Brochures, printed in black and white, were treasured memorabilia and were usually published in time for the welcoming function or first day of play.

The role of women cannot be adequately appreciated and recorded. Wives, girlfriends, mothers, grandmothers, women family members, women spectators and supporters also played pivotal roles in assisting the development of non-racial sport.

Women assisted largely with catering and with administration like typing letters on typewriters, doing the post and preparing the tea/food when meetings were held at home and when teams stayed at family homes. But women also participated in sport as players and athletes, coaches, officials and activists.

Non-racial sport did not use hotels but relied on schools, church halls and family homes for accommodation during tournaments. Hotels that were used were those in oppressed communities such as the Himalaya in Durban, Bosmont Hotel in Johannesburg, Alabama in Port Elizabeth, Kemo in Kimberley, Landdrost in Cape Town. National sports federations survived on minimal financial resources, sometimes on R2000, 00 a year, sometimes with no money but they would be carried by sports leaders who used their own funds.

The awarding of colours and trophies were big moments in non-racial sport as well as the taking of the provincial team photograph. Blazers were worn with pride and honour and only by those to whom they had been awarded. When a player/athlete/official wore your colours, you were treated with great respect and admiration when showcasing your provincial colours which was one of the ultimate achievements of most sportspeople.

Trophies were the only prizes given out in non-racial sport, with a certificate of congratulations. Professional football awarded prize money but it was not much, in the 70’s the FPL footballer of the year won R500. Trophies were often donated in memory of a sports official or were named after a senior, long serving official, or a community sponsor.

It is important to emphasise how non-racial sport survived with no major sponsorships and no government financial support. Sports federations ‘charged’ a levy per club and per member and the provincial federation paid registration fees to the national body which survived on these small finances. Non-racial athletes did not get sponsorship from sports companies or endorsements from companies which were accorded by these businesses to the white sports person.

Small shop owners, black professionals like lawyers and doctors often supported non-racial athletes with donations of R20, R50 or R100 to assist them to cover their traveling costs. Travel would often be by road travel – bus or car or kombi. Air travel was rarely used as it was a very expensive method of traveling for non-racial sport.

Non-racial sport was about human dignity, humility, struggle, principles and passion to achieve your best potential, despite adverse and negative playing conditions. The talent was plentiful, the passion galore and the commitment unrivalled. Talent surfaced in all sports and from all communities, both women and men, throughout South Africa.

Young adults, sometimes teenagers, became administrators at club level and were very soon developed as officials at club, provincial and national level. Meetings were structured, once a month executive committee and council meetings at which all clubs were present and where the operations of the sport were discussed.

The non-racial sports movement found it in their hearts to forgive those very people who were guilty of atrocities and racism. Acknowledging that only time would heal our scars and battle wounds, non-racial and anti-apartheid sports representatives unified the disparate sports groupings in South Africa and ushered in a new sports dispensation.

The spirit, integrity, honesty, character, principles, commitment and passion of those who chose to advance non-racial sport and fight against apartheid in sport and South African society was exemplary. The millions of non-racial and anti-apartheid heroines and heroes committed themselves to sports unity and a desire to develop South African sport overall so that all South Africans may be proud of our non-racial sports structure.

Respect For Non-Racial Sports Struggle By Cheryl Roberts

7 Apr

 

 

ImageThe anti-apartheid, non-racial sports struggle opposed apartheid sport and demanded non-racial sport. Non-racial sport called for a lifetime, if that is what it took before freedom arrived, of commitment to social change and the elimination of oppression. There are those who have no idea, and do not want to know anything, about this commitment or unselfish way of giving to engineer societal change in the interests of all South Africa’s people.

As we look back with pride on the past decades which have brought us to where we are today, we must applaud, honour, remember, acknowledge and celebrate the people who sacrificed their lives for freedom from oppression and for the emergence, from an unequal and unjust sports network, to the dawn of a new sports era and acceptance of South Africa as a legitimate country in the international arenas of sport.

Today, when we enjoy international sport, we must not forget those who made it possible for us to achieve international legitimacy and play international sport. We must remember with pride, honour and recognition the sacrifices made for non-racial sport and the fight against apartheid sport.

Several non-racial sport leaders chose a non-racial way of life when they were

teenagers and today, it’s because of these very choices and commitment for non-racial

sport, that we enjoy international sport, no more as pariahs, but as a non-racial, democratic South Africa.

Sports leaders like Chief Albert Luthuli, George Singh, Norman Middleton, RK Naidoo, Dan Twala, Rama Reddy, Cassim Bassa, Morgan Naidoo, Percy Sonn, Hassan Howa, Errol Vawda, SK Chetty, Frank van der Horst, Dan Qeqe, Colin Clarke, Abdullah Abbass, MN Pather, Danny Jordaan, Sam Ramsamy stand in a league of their own, together with the many women leaders in sports such as hockey, softball, school sport, athletics, provincial sports federations and clubs and the women who gave so much unselfish time to catering, typing the minutes and providing great support to partners, friends and family.

Non-racial sports leaders were not about money or material gain and personal wealth accumulation. They were about the struggle for a non-racial, democratic South Africa. They were not driven by money, profits or personal gratification and their entire lives were guided by non-racial principles, the fight against social inequalities and abuse of human rights and human injustices. Non-racial sports leaders could have gone on to become business citizens of South Africa, accumulating vast amounts of personal wealth, but they chose to give their whole and entire life to non-racial sport and a non-racial, democratic South Africa.

In the non-racial sports gallery and in the hearts and minds of millions of people, those who chose non-racial sport stand supreme for their contribution to the sports and liberation struggle. With minimal resources, they became efficient, astute administrators and non-racial sports leaders. Some of the fruits of their unselfish commitment and principles are being seen today but the trees planted by non-racial sport are yet to experience full bloom as we confront the challenges of creating a non-racial sports dispensation.

Non-racial sport has produced many outstanding, principled, articulate, unselfish sports leaders, administrators and athletes/players. Many non-racial sports leaders like MN Pather Morgan Naidoo, Colin Clarke, Krish Mackerdhuj, Khaya Majola, Errol Vawda, Bill Jardine, Percy Sonn had untimely deaths. These esteemed and principled non-racial people were giving vast amounts of their time and life to developing and consolidating non-racial sport, particularly at the crucial stage of post-sports unification.

We must forever honour and pay tribute to our anti-apartheid sports struggle and remember the sacrifices and principles of our leaders, officials, heroines and heroes who chose a difficult journey and sacrificed a lifetime for an equitable, non-racial sports dispensation in South Africa and should not allow our non-racial sports struggle to be easily erased or omitted from celebration and commemorations.

Playing non-racial sport meant that we played with human dignity and with no reference to one’s colour. Non-racial sport gave respectability to thousands of athletes, supporters, officials, administrators and the anti-apartheid communities who cherished an alternative to apartheid, racial sport.

Non-racial sport organised sportspeople under the banner of sport and not according to class, colour or race. Non-racial sport was about human dignity, it was about belief in all people as human beings and not in the superiority of whites or inferiority of blacks. Opposition to apartheid sport was about struggle for human dignity, for an equitable sports system and for all South Africans to have a chance to participate in sport and represent their country.

Non-racial sports leaders were so dedicated and committed to opposing the human indignity that was apartheid sport, that they sacrificed their lives for non-racial sport. There were no investment returns from being associated with non-racial sport; the only guarantee was that the oppressed were able to play non-racial sport.

Such was the commitment and sincerity of non-racial sports leaders that they gave much personal time and money to sport because non-racial sport was not sponsored nor had much money to survive. Many sports officials used their personal monies to pay for administrative costs without ever claiming expenses, and this went on for years at great expense to their personal families. Some leaders like RK Naidoo, even mortgaged their family home for non-racial sport.

Non-racial, anti-apartheid sport was played on dirty, uneven patches as playing fields and grounds and run-down, under-resourced halls in schools and oppressed communities but they were utilized with passion and produced talented sportspeople, many of whom would have achieved remarkably well in the world of international sport.

The majority of South Africans did not have proper and adequate sports amenities and facilities, government funding or sponsorship from business yet they organised and developed sport in the disadvantaged, oppressed and severely deprived communities. Talented sportswomen and sportsmen emerged from these communities but they received very little media recognition or sponsorship. Non-racial sport was organised to give dignity to black sportspeople and to advance non-racialism in sport and society instead of playing multi-national or multi-racial sport.

People who chose non-racial sport put principles above money and chose to advance a non-racial, democratic society where all South Africans are one nation, living in one country and are treated equally. Blacks got very few facilities at school and in communities under the apartheid regime but at least they played non-racial sport and contributed to the creation of our non-racial, democratic society. Millions of people fought for non-racial sport and for the liberation of South Africa.

Non-racial sport got little publicity and coverage in the few mainstream print media on offer. Publicity profiles increased when the print media launched “Extra” editions purposely for black readers and it was in these newspapers that non-racial sport was recorded. Most black journalists throughout South Africa were also committed to non-racial sport and wrote about the talent, achievements and records, victories and defeats of non-racial sport.

Brochures played a significant contribution in recording the annual history of all sports federations and brochures were produced for every national and provincial tournament and sometimes also for club events. These brochures were treasured items and every participant got a copy. Today, many people who participated in non-racial sport, have brochures dating back decades ago.

It was via the brochures that the history of the sports federation was passed down as information about the sport, its leaders and champions and it was via the tournament brochure that the principles and policies of non-racial sports were transmitted. Brochures, printed in black and white, were treasured memorabilia and were usually published in time for the welcoming function or first day of play.

The role of women cannot be adequately appreciated and recorded. Wives, girlfriends, mothers, grandmothers, women family members, women spectators and supporters also played pivotal roles in assisting the development of non-racial sport.

Women assisted largely with catering and with administration like typing letters on typewriters, doing the post and preparing the tea/food when meetings were held at home and when teams stayed at family homes. But women also participated in sport as players and athletes, coaches, officials and activists.

Non-racial sport did not use hotels but relied on schools, church halls and family homes for accommodation during tournaments. Hotels that were used were those in oppressed communities such as the Himalaya in Durban, Bosmont Hotel in Johannesburg, Alabama in Port Elizabeth, Kemo in Kimberley, Landdrost in Cape Town. National sports federations survived on minimal financial resources, sometimes on R2000, 00 a year, sometimes with no money but they would be carried by sports leaders who used their own funds.

The awarding of colours and trophies were big moments in non-racial sport as well as the taking of the provincial team photograph. Blazers were worn with pride and honour and only by those to whom they had been awarded. When a player/athlete/official wore your colours, you were treated with great respect and admiration when showcasing your provincial colours which was one of the ultimate achievements of most sportspeople.

Trophies were the only prizes given out in non-racial sport, with a certificate of congratulations. Professional football awarded prize money but it was not much, in the 70’s the FPL footballer of the year won R500. Trophies were often donated in memory of a sports official or were named after a senior, long serving official, or a community sponsor.

It is important to emphasise how non-racial sport survived with no major sponsorships and no government financial support. Sports federations ‘charged’ a levy per club and per member and the provincial federation paid registration fees to the national body which survived on these small finances. Non-racial athletes did not get sponsorship from sports companies or endorsements from companies which were accorded by these businesses to the white sports person.

Small shop owners, black professionals like lawyers and doctors often supported non-racial athletes with donations of R20, R50 or R100 to assist them to cover their traveling costs. Travel would often be by road travel – bus or car or kombi. Air travel was rarely used as it was a very expensive method of traveling for non-racial sport.

Non-racial sport was about human dignity, humility, struggle, principles and passion to achieve your best potential, despite adverse and negative playing conditions. The talent was plentiful, the passion galore and the commitment unrivalled. Talent surfaced in all sports and from all communities, both women and men, throughout South Africa.

Young adults, sometimes teenagers, became administrators at club level and were very soon developed as officials at club, provincial and national level. Meetings were structured, once a month executive committee and council meetings at which all clubs were present and where the operations of the sport were discussed.

The non-racial sports movement found it in their hearts to forgive those very people who were guilty of atrocities and racism. Acknowledging that only time would heal our scars and battle wounds, non-racial and anti-apartheid sports representatives unified the disparate sports groupings in South Africa and ushered in a new sports dispensation.

The spirit, integrity, honesty, character, principles, commitment and passion of those who chose to advance non-racial sport and fight against apartheid in sport and South African society was exemplary. The millions of non-racial and anti-apartheid heroines and heroes committed themselves to sports unity and a desire to develop South African sport overall so that all South Africans may be proud of our non-racial sports structure.

I want to forever honour non-racial sport because it’s where I grew up in sport, developed principles, self-esteem and a non-racial way of life, give tribute to the commitment and sacrifice of the millions who resisted apartheid sport and advanced non-racial sport. It’s about remembering where we have come from, respecting our rich and vibrant sports history and life and going forward on the basis of being informed of where we have come and where we want to be, and that is, a sports structure that creates opportunities for South Africans and not only a minority elite.

Classism Affects SA Youth Football By Cheryl Roberts

1 Apr

 

Image

I watched some youth football action in Cape Town at the annual Bayhill u19 boys football tournament, held in Belhar, Cape Town this Easter weekend. Although enjoying the football, embracing this football environment and seeing the young footballers aiming for goal and the faithful supporters cheering on their favourite teams and players, the tournament surfaced my deeper feeling about classism within football, the sport for the working class.

Conceptualised and inaugurated 25 years ago, this tournament is a grassroots football event, rooted in community leadership and ownership, which started out giving a competitive chance to young, aspirant footballers living in and around the Cape Flats, playing for various football clubs, most of them disadvantaged and without much resources and finances.

This efficiently organized Bayhill youth tournament was inaugurated before football unity and initially held under the membership of the Western Province Football Board. It grew in stature with massive community support. After its phenomenal growth and large community attendance, sponsors and government began to associate with this men’s youth football event. But the tournament has also shifted from being there for grassroots players belonging only to amateur clubs. It now also includes entries from rich clubs and professional footballs in SA and abroad.

And this is where the classism element rears its head. The 25th edition of the Bayhill tournament began with qualifying rounds of competition with teams trying for a place in the 32 team makeup of the tournament. By the quarterfinal stage, not even the final round, six of the eight teams belonged to SA’s professional clubs who receive millions in funding from the PSL. The amateur teams did not make it beyond the group stages. This I attribute to better financial resources and enabling environments, of teams attached to professional clubs, for the young footballers to develop and prosper.

South Africa’s working class youth footballers are passionate about playing football. Most youngsters embracing the sport play in organised leagues within their communities, hoping to gain further selection for provincial and national dreams; their dream being to represent their country on the world’s football fields and also to secure a contract with the world’s best football clubs.

However, although the working class is united in their love for football, governance and ownership of the sport by corporates and rich owners has brought classism into football. The working class footballer’s involvement with the sport is based on where he/she can get a contract, or agent to fit them into the football pyramid.

I’ve been having this analysis for some time now about the underdevelopment of football within South African football. Post-apartheid football brought all football players together one football structure and players had international football as a real ambition and objective to aim for. But the past decade especially has seen the underdevelopment of football, particularly amongst football structures leagues and clubs in disadvantaged communities where parents struggle to survive and provide for their children’s sports interest.

I really do applaud the grassroots coaches who look after the youth players. In all clubs, there’s always that one or a few officials and coaches who will transport the players, pay their registration fees, help get them soccer boots, give them food and maybe some pocket money. Up until a decade ago, one could say all teams competing in the Bayhill, one of SA’s most prestige and best organised youth tournaments, kicked the ball from the same platform. But this is not so anymore.

Years later, this youth tournament clearly separates the rich football clubs such as Kaizer Chiefs, SuperSport and Sundowns and the professional clubs like Ajax, Wits, Santos from the many clubs which are organized and kept together under amateur administration. These are the clubs who survive on passion and enthusiasm. These clubs are bound and assisted by hardworking and unselfish officials who look after the junior teams unlike the rich and professional clubs whom have structured full-time development departments with the youth teams living in club residence undergoing routine and structured training and coaching. The players want for nothing: all their expenses and needs are taken care of once they leave their family home and enter into youth contract with the club.

The amateur, non-professional, district team doesn’t have this environment to play in; theirs is that of hustle and struggle to get football boots, get to training and venues on match day. Their football world centres around the community club and passionate coaches, some of them former players themselves, others with limited coaching experience but nevertheless developing enthusiastic youth footballers.

Most junior players have international ambitions. Several players want to make it like Cape Flats hero’s Benni McCarthy and Quinton Fortune, who went from poor teenage footballers to high earning players in Europe’s lucrative and attractive leagues.

The scouts and agents are all over at this youth tournament, keenly watching out for talent amongst the hundreds of teenage footballers competing for glory. Some head scouts have additional eyes all around, keenly watching all matches for than one or more layer who can be traded for a deal overseas. 

The parents are also here, enjoying the football, watching the games, cheering and supporting their child’s team, sharing the pain and agony when goals are missed and matches lost: parents whom also have their future dreams set on the young footballer, hoping he will perform well and be courted by an agent; the ultimate destination being Europe where big money is paid.      

I love supporting grassroots, community sport and this youth football tournament is no exception. But here, whilst I recognize the footballers all share one passion of football and one goal of playing international football, my support is titled in favour of the amateur clubs or teams not connected to the rich and professional clubs. I desperately want the disadvantaged teams to win and their players to shine. I want some of these players to be spotted for youth contracts abroad because their place in football’s sun is already determined by which club they play, and most often, this is connected with a rich or professional club.

(I use the example of the Bayhill U19 football tournament in Cape Town but this is true and real throughout South African football)