Archive | July, 2014

Springbok Mandisa Williams Cherishes Women’s Rugby By Cheryl Roberts

31 Jul

mandisa williams 

Besides her love for her family, nothing else compares to Mandisa Williams’ love for rugby. When Springbok women’s captain, Mandisa Williams runs onto the field for South Africa’s women’s rugby world cup opening match against Australia, she will be loaded with love ammunition for her sport and pride in her Springbok jersey.

But then again, Mandisa Williams doesn’t just love rugby; she is crazy about the sport she has been playing since a teenage girl in her community of Mdantsane in East London.

This will be Mandisa’s third women’s rugby world cup. Over the years she has seen women’s rugby grow amongst girls and teenagers and been part of improving performances of a national women’s squad.

With improved training programmes, much more training camps and international competition, Mandisa is approaching her third women’s rugby world cup with more confidence and belief in the springbok women’s team.

“The SA women’s rugby squad has been preparing for over two years and we have been developing towards world cup 2014. Players were given opportunities to prove themselves and then the coach and selectors announced the world cup team. Saru has given more support to women’s rugby and we are more confident about our participation,” says Mandisa.

“The opposition at world cup 2014 won’t be easy; every team wants to perform well and win. And then there are the champions New Zealand and the very strong team of Australia, France and England.  Our team’s focus is to play in the world cup to win every match and our overall objective is to improve performance”.

Whilst being excited and confident about the women’s rugby world cup, Mandisa is hoping she goes thru the tournament injury-free. She returned home from the UK tour and didn’t play in the Test in Paris against France. A resounding beating by Franc showed the South African women’s rugby team how much they needed Mandisa’s experience and leadership.

Mandisa is taking all precautions to be injury-free and match fit. She wants to deliver her best performances at the world cup, which could be her last world cup.

“We are strong as a team and all players know we must contribute. Our team is a combination of emerging players making their world cup debut and experienced players who have played in world cups. During our training we could see the older, experienced layers pushing the limits of their play, working at improvement,” says Mandisa.

It was in Mdantsane that Mandisa was introduced to rugby, before she knew about any other sport. She would go along, with her family, to watch rugby matches in the rugby community that is Mdantsane. Not content to just watch the game, Mandisa also wanted to run with the ball and score tries. And so began her rugby playing life, with full support from her rugby loving father.

Mandisa’s rugby talent was noticed very quickly and she got called up for trials whilst still a teenage girl player. Then came selection for the Border women’s senior team and a call up to the Springbok squad. Within a short while, Mandisa had commanded a place in the springbok women’s team and then came appointment as springbok women’s captain, at the young age of 22.

Mandisa cherishes her Springbok debut when she first pulled on the Springbok jersey. But it’s the inter-provincial championship which Border women won in 2013 that she’s most proud about. Reaching the quarterfinals at the women’s rugby world cup would be a dream come true for the Springbok women’s team and captain.

Why Do Whites Oppose Quotas In Sport But Remain Silent About Sport’s Inequalities?  By Cheryl Roberts

29 Jul

'south african sport', published in november 2013. published by cheryl roberts in cape town, south africa

 

Whenever a quota system is announced for sport, whites react fast, furiously and angrily. Yet, whites never react similarly to the inequalities in sport, white dominance and control of the sports wealth, and white preferences in team selection. This angry white reaction is clearly depicted in some sections of the media who present quotas as negative and discriminating against whites in sport. White media representatives go crazy when there’s a hint of a quota mention; they react swiftly to inform white people they will be blocked or cut off from representation by quota numbers. However, this very mischievous media doesn’t inform whites their time is up for privileges to be all theirs and that South Africans must have opportunities.

Why do whites as a group representation get angry whenever quotas in sport are mentioned? And why do whites, who have access to the sports wealth and their privileged class positions, not also react angrily and fiercely to the colour and gender inequalities in sport? There are so few black women in Team SA, whilst there are far more white women. Yet, the same whites who boldly challenge quotas, never fiercely attack gender inequalities.  

Soon after sports unity was sealed in various boardrooms, about two decades ago, in the largely white controlled and dominated sports of rugby and cricket and netball, a litany of battles ensued to get black players recognised as quality players, worthy of provincial and international selection. Black rugby, netball and cricket players have always had to struggle and do everything right at their first opportunity of representation, or else face the prospect of being dropped and non-selection because they would have been deemed as not being ready for international play.

Had it had not been for strong challenges from the bold voices within sport, who stood their ground and demanded black players be recognized and selected, several black players would not have been selected and gone on to achieve internationally.

Emerging from our horrendous past of apartheid and structural discrimination and racism, the scars of white superiority and discrimination on race still impact immensely on our non-racial, democratic South Africa. And this is clearly reflected in sport where a significant percentage of whites have the thinking that white people in sport have supreme ability, above black players.

From about 20 years ago, the quota system in sport was instrumental and much needed at a crucial turning point in the South African sports paradigm. Its pivotal challenge was to force coaching and selection committees and officials to take off their blinkers and see beyond white ability. Starring at the coaches and selectors were talented and emerging black players, screaming for recognition of their talents. Yet white selectors an coaches kept insisting that black players were still developing and needed to be nurtured, whilst young white players were not seen as needing development.

Today, we are still asking why is the Springbok squad white dominated? Why does netball not represent all colours of women players? And Bafana only made of African players? Why can’t an African cricketer get to play Test cricket on a consistent basis? South Africa’s senior swimming teams, for the past two decades, are embarrassingly white. Its not that blacks can’t swim because blacks do swim and have been champion swimmers. Go through the records of non-racial, anti-apartheid swimming and you will see the recorded results of black swimmers in South Africa.

We must consistently pressurize for transformation of the sport network; dominance of sport should not be held by the control of an elite group.

White group representatives like AfriForum are very quick to denounce quotas in sport and advocate an immediate challenge. But then again, this reaction is expected because groups like AfriForum exist to protect white interests in SA; they clearly don’t exist to protect disadvantaged, under-resourced townships and working class communities nor black people.

South African sport, in its entirety, must be engaged in transformation. Most importantly, this transformation narrative must be understood. Transformation must not be viewed as an instruction or painstaking journey. Transformation of sport must be embraced with sincerity and endorsed with honestly by all involved in the sports network.

Transformation is not only about colour! It’s about eliminating gender, class and colour inequalities and discrimination. And, transformation is not only about the sport of rugby being thrashed for not being representative, but all sports being transformed.

Transformation of sport in South Africa must not be frowned upon or seen as a negative pathway. Transformation is about changing from our horrendous inequalities, moving away from our society of neglect of working class and disadvantaged communities. It’s about being aware how white wealth and black middle class privilege benefits participation in sport; that those with access to resources and money have much more chances and opportunities to participate in sport and achieve.

Most imperatively, we must understand that transformation unlocks our sports talent. By creating and opening avenues of access to participation in sport, the base of talent is opened. When we seen white dominated sports and representative teams, we must never believe that whites are supremely talented above all other colours of people. We must see this as reflection that whites have access to participate in most sports and get to represent in theses sports.

At the time of writing this, Team SA had a medal haul of 24 at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Nearly all medals were won by white athletes and teams representing SA. Thankfully, the rugby 7’s team won the gold medal and this achievement added players of all colours.

We must keep questioning and challenge how best to transform and radically change the sports paradigm to benefit South Africa’s people. Debates, discussions and conversations must be ongoing amongst sport leadership and officialdom. And black officials must not relax when they assume a position or get an international ticket somewhere. Black officials come from disadvantaged communities and must challenge our sports network when it fails to provide for black sports people.

‘South African Athletics Doesn’t Want Anymore Wars And Infighting ‘ By Cheryl Roberts

17 Jul

 

 

 

Publisher of 'South African Sport', Cheryl Roberts interviewing, Aleck Skhosana, President of Athletics South Africa

Publisher of ‘South African Sport’, Cheryl Roberts interviewing, Aleck Skhosana, President of Athletics South Africa

 

‘ASA Must Focus On Athletes And Coaches’ – Aleck Skhosana: ASA President

Recently elected president of Athletics South Africa, Aleck Skhosana knows exactly what he wants to achieve for the sport in South Africa.

After much turmoil and strife over the past four years, Skhosana says he feels enough pain for athletics to know that the athletics family ‘wants no more wars’.

Characterised by more infighting and leadership battles than athlete prowess on the athletics stage, Athletics South Africa has pleading for stable, insightful and committed officials. In stepped Aleck Skhosana, a long serving sports official from Durban and a former chairman of KZN athletics.

Immediately upon becoming President of ASA, Skhosana and his newly elected executive galvanized their committee into action, not as individuals but as a collective, working together for the interests of athletics.

‘Unity within athletics is paramount at this stage of our existence. We are tired of the fights and battles amongst ourselves and outside forces, some of whom were determined to destroy athletics in our country.

‘ASA’s democratically elected committee is intent on putting out all fires, unifying and consolidating our formation and concentrating on the athletes, who have suffered amidst the confusion and boardroom strife.

‘We want athletics to make South Africa a proud sports nation. And to achieve this goal, we must ensure that we act in unison, not for selfish and personal ambitions, but for the sport.’

Gaining the confidence and support of the Minister of Sport, Fikile Mbalula and Sascoc, now that the dark era is over, has satisfied ASA, who also value the global support of IAAF and Confederation of African Athletics.

Attracting financial assistance and support and sponsors to be associated with athletics is one of the objectives which the ASA leadership wants to settle on very quickly.

‘Sponsorship and finance are what the sport needs to function and operate and to support our athletes. We are hoping to appoint a CEO very soon, together with a market/sponsorship company able to work with ASA and benefit the sport,’ says Skhosana.

‘Transformation of athletics from grassroots to the elite levels of excellence is a top agenda priority of ASA. But this achievement goes together with effective and efficient administration at all levels of the sport. Moving athletics forward and onto higher levels will be done in collaboration with ASA’s stakeholders such as SRSA, SASCOC and our athletics membership.

After just about a month in office, Skhosana has been intent on calming the rocky waters which ASA found itself navigating. He is adamant and sincere when he says: ‘We are done with wars and battles’.

Skhosana is also honest to admit that officials and leaders ‘with all the recent infighting and boardroom battles, have failed the sport of athletics in South Africa and on the African continent’.

And now, says the ASA President: ‘Nobody should take a fight to us because we will run from it. We have seen what negatives emanate from leadership wars in sport.

‘ASA’s priority focus is athlete and coach development. This is our mandate for existence and this is what we shall be judged about. If we fail in this ambition, then we would have failed ourselves and South African sport.’

Having been an achieving athlete, who emerged from grassroots participation to be South African champion, Skhosana doesn’t think of failure. Achieving his ambitions is what inspires this sports official, who was educated at the iconic Adams College, just outside Durban, on the KZN South Coast.

As manager of the KZN Academy of Sport, Skhosana knows the priority is to develop grassroots participation if elite athletes are to be discovered, nurtured and developed. It is this understanding of the value of grassroots development which will motivate the leader of athletics in South Africa to never move away from the sport’s objective for existence.

‘Athletics achieves for our country at global sports events like the Olympics and world championships. ASA must continue to assist and develop athletes and coaches so the best talent and potential can achieve the best results for South Africa. To this, we are committed,’ says Skhosana. 

South Africa’s Struggling ‘Retired’ Black Sportswomen By Cheryl Roberts

11 Jul

 

 

South Africa’s sportswomen struggle to achieve against the grain. Despite challenges encountered because of gender inequalities and discrimination, women in sport have emerged and claimed championship titles and medals. All sportspeople reach retirement date from competitive sport, when they call time and bid farewell to training and competition. It’s expected that international sportspeople don’t retire into a struggling life, especially after you’ve achieved for yourself and your country. 

After having served South African sport and represented our country internationally, several black sportswomen are struggling to survive.

It’s disheartening and painful to know of international sportswomen representatives struggling to survive, after they have retired from competitive sport.

It’s always a struggle and challenge for black women to participate in sport. It’s a tougher encounter for them to compete internationally, achieve world class performances, championship titles and medals.

South Africa’s black and working class sportswomen and women in sport are forever the struggling people, this after having realized their talent, trained daily for events and tournaments.

Amongst some of South Africa’s successful sportswomen who are battling to survive after retiring from international sport are Janice Josephs from Retreat, Babalwa Ndleleni from Crossroads, Jo-Anne Solomons from Cloetesville in Stellenbosch

Why should our sportswomen, who have achieved for our country and made us a proud sports nation, have to struggle when they retire?  These are women who competed in an era when sponsorship for black women in sport was almost non-existent. They were not paid professionals with lucrative incomes.

Ndleleni and Josephs were on Sascoc’s Operation Excellence programme which assisted and prepared athletes for elite participation such as world championships, continental events and Olympic Games. Ndleleni got R2 000 a month and Josephs got R6 000 a month from OPEX. Solomons received stipends and match bonuses from SFA when Banyana Banyana played internationally.

Josephs was a talented schoolgirl athlete. Her sports talent was noticed throughout her school years as SA schools champion in several athletics disciplines such as the sprints, javelin, long jump. She developed from the junior internationals to senior international, representing South Africa at several African and world championships.

Ndleleni got interested in weightlifting after being introduced to the sport at school in Nyanga, following a talk by the weightlifting federation. She went on to become Western Province and South African champion, won numerous African titles ad gold medals and clinched a hard earned bronze medal at the 2008 Commonwealth Games in Australia.

Solomons was a precocious girl footballer and played club and provincial football. Her talent didn’t go unnoticed and she was called South Arica’s women’s national team, played in African championships, friendly internationals and world cup qualifying events. She remains one of Banyana Banyana’s prolific goal scorers having scored 49 international goals. She retired from international football in 2006.

Josephs, Ndleleni and Solomons would love to be involved full-time in sport; to be coaching or managing girls and women in sport. Solomons is out of work, staying at home with her pensioner mother and still seeking work.

Ndleleni, 35 years old can’t find employment in sport, despite having a sports diploma. A mother of a 2 year old, Ndleleni worked in a call centre and now has an admin job but can’t survive on her income and provide for her and her child.

Josephs retired from competitive athletics, aged 32. Two years ago, she won a silver medal for SA at the African athletics champs in Benin. A few weeks ago, she hit rock bottom in her life and was forced to take cover in a shelter for homeless people in Paarl.

She had no income, no money to ay for rent; just a few possessions.

When the statistics are recorded, when the medals are counted and the accolades acknowledged for those who contributed to South Africa’s sporting success, the names of Josephs, Ndleleni and Solomons will be amongst those who have achieved.

But why, if the sportswomen have achieved and made their country proud, can’t they further be involved in sport. In the billions allocated to sport in SA, surely opportunities can be created for our international sportswomen to be kept in sport and help develop our sports girls and mentor our sportswomen.   

Admittedly there are some women who are able to work fulltime in sport, but these are just the few who manage to get a foot in and then hold on to their jobs. At the SA Sports Awards why are the women not asked to do award presentations? Why are people from outside sport like musicians and performers paid to do presentations whilst our black sportswomen are ignored?

SA’s black, working class sportswomen have worked really hard to participate in sport and achieve on the world stage. They have sacrificed personal wealth and income accumulation to develop their talent and win titles, medals and world class rankings.

Most importantly, its because they struggled against the odds an against the grain and showed that black women can achieve in sport that South Africa’s present generation of girls and women in sport can believe in themselves. It’s because of the women before them, that confidence is installed in today’s provincial and national international representatives.

Surely positions of employment can be created within sport for South Africa’s retiring sportswomen! They have dedicated their lives to training and achieving for themselves and their country but they are almost destitute in the very country they made proud.babalwa ndlelenijoanne solomonsjanice josephs

Janice Josephs’ Life From World Class Athlete To Life in A Shelter By Cheryl Roberts

8 Jul

janice josephsOne of South Africa’s international, world class and African champion women athletes, is unemployed and homeless; this after retiring just six months ago and medalling two years ago in the African athletics championship.

This is the tragic story of world ranked long jumper, Janice Josephs who not only represented South Africa in international sports events, but also medalled in several international meets.

Two years ago, Janice Josephs who comes from the working class community of retreat in Cape Town, was South African log jump champion. She went on to compete in the African championship and got a silver medal in Benin.

Six months ago, in January this year, without warning or notice, Josephs’s athletics career came to an abrupt halt.

‘I woke up one morning and couldn’t move out of bed. My back was sore and injured and needed rest. After medical advice, it was decided I would stop competing in athletics.

‘I knew retirement was coming my way, but not so soon and quick. I hadn’t begun to make any final preparations, although I had begun thinking about the road ahead,’ says Josephs.

Josephs was a prodigious athletics talent at school in Retreat where her raw talent was noticed and her athletics development supported by caring teacher sports officials and coaches who guided her to compete internationally as a schoolgirl.

Despite competing in the era of a non-racial, democratic South Africa, Josephs seemingly always competed in chain. A litany of family struggles impacted negatively on Josephs throughout her athletics life. Fortunately, she was assisted by some teachers and community officials and, when she became a champion senior competitor, got funded by Athletics South Africa and Sascoc via Operation Excellence which prepared SA’s athletes for elite participation in continental, world and Olympic events.

To compete internationally and achieve your best results, one must participate in sport on a full-time basis and as a professional. South Africa’s sportswomen struggle to compete as full-time athletes. Most have to hold down jobs and establish their careers outside of sport whilst also trying to put in the hours and hours of sports training. Black sportswomen struggle harder than white sportswomen.

‘I’ve always been an athlete, since my primary school days,’ says Josephs. I’ve enjoyed competing in my province, in South Africa, for my schools and for my country. I’ve travelled a lot, made friends, met many athletes. But I have struggled and struggled and struggled.

‘My family situation is about survival from day to day. We have an abusive father in our midst, our mother has little formal education. So the family has relied on my athletics to look after them.

‘Whenever I earned some money, much of it went to the family to help them along because I just couldn’t sit back and let them struggle. I was happy I could help them. And then when my body could not help me anymore to compete, we are all suffering, mostly me.’

At one time, Josephs was being assisted and coached by a benevolent coach who took care of the athlete’s needs, allowing her to concentrate full-time on athletics with no worries about where her next income was coming from. She also managed to get her kit sponsored and a car sponsored.

But then it all began to fall apart for the athlete, who has been a sprint champion, heptathon and long jump champion. The coach reached a situation in his life where he couldn’t assist her anymore and Josephs had to look out for herself.

Boland Athletics intervened and offered her a sponsorship so she could participate in athletics full-time. Then, it all fell away again, although this time it happened too quickly and without Josephs having any backup. Boland Athletic stopped the sponsorship and Josephs had no income.

Over the past six months, all her attempts to find employment in sport have found no positive replies for this world class athlete. Without any money, a struggling and abusive family environment, few friends who couldn’t offer much help because of their own survival challenges, Josephs found shelter at a homeless refuge in Paarl where she stayed for three months; the maximum time she could stay at the shelter.

Through people hearing about her plight, another man stepped in and offered some help with a place to lay her head until she gets into employment and can look after herself.

‘I have been through hell and back with my struggles but through it all I’m staying strong for myself. I have nothing. Nothing at all. But I must look after myself. I’m trying desperately to get a job in sport, but so far I have not been lucky with that. I love sport. It’s my life. I want to coach and help young athletes,’ says Josephs who is now playing club rugby and football.

Cape Flats Actress, Denise Newman Celebrates The Life Of Anti-Apartheid Heroine, Dulcie September By Cheryl Roberts

3 Jul

africanwomanwarriorcherylroberts

denise newman denise newman

Dulcie September Dulcie September

Cape Flats actress, Denise Newman isn’t just a ‘trained actress’, of stage, film and screen. This Cape Flats actress is a performer with a consciousness that never betrays freedom, justice, humanity. It’s no wonder then that scripting a life story and performing it live, about legendary anti-apartheid activist, Dulcie September would be undertaken in her lifetime of bold, dazzling and deep theatrical performances.

‘Cold Case’, which premiers at the National Arts festival in Grahamstown, is not just another story about another human life. It’s a stage production about a woman who gave her lifetime for freedom of oppressed South Africans and who never got the chance to smile when freedom day dawned and ushered in the democratic society.
Dulcie September, grew up in Stellenbosch, became a struggle activist and fought apartheid and oppression in South Africa. After bannings and harassment by the apartheid regime’s vicious security…

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Cape Flats Actress, Denise Newman Celebrates The Life Of Anti-Apartheid Heroine, Dulcie September By Cheryl Roberts

3 Jul
denise newman

denise newman

Dulcie September

Dulcie September

Cape Flats actress, Denise Newman isn’t just a ‘trained actress’, of stage, film and screen. This Cape Flats actress is a performer with a consciousness that never betrays freedom, justice, humanity. It’s no wonder then that scripting a life story and performing it live, about legendary anti-apartheid activist, Dulcie September would be undertaken in her lifetime of bold, dazzling and deep theatrical performances.

‘Cold Case’, which premiers at the National Arts festival in Grahamstown, is not just another story about another human life. It’s a stage production about a woman who gave her lifetime for freedom of oppressed South Africans and who never got the chance to smile when freedom day dawned and ushered in the democratic society.
Dulcie September, grew up in Stellenbosch, became a struggle activist and fought apartheid and oppression in South Africa. After bannings and harassment by the apartheid regime’s vicious security, she then went into exile and joined the banned African national Congress, a liberation organization she served with tireless dedication. After years of unselfish commitment to freedom from oppression, Dulcie September was tragically gunned down in Paris, France. At the time of her brutal slaying, Dulcie September was representing the ANC at their international office in France.

Actress Denise Newman doesn’t want the memory of Dulcie September to be forgotten: she wants it to be remembered and celebrated.

Why Dulcie September?
This production in the format of ‘Cold Case’s about us not forgetting the roads we traveled to fight apartheid and the activists who committed their lives to justice. Our focus on Dulcie September’s life is about celebrating a tireless fight against oppression and a life that helped get our freedom. We should never forget those personal sacrifices for freedom to be realised in South Africa.

Where did the idea come from, to remember the amazing life of Dulcie September?
I always had this idea that we should tell stories we feel connected to and that gets relegated as we move along in history. I got the idea in January this year and approached Basil Appollis who immediately reacted positively, loved the idea and said let’s get started.

And how did the production get started?
An approach to arts funding agencies to be associated with the theatrical production, didn’t garner a response. But this didn’t deter Denise Newman, who got going with no funds; just the passion and enthusiasm to script and perform Dulcie September’s life on stage. We got going with the research, spoke to Dulcie’s family and friends, visited the archives, read newspapers and came up with treasured memories of Dulcie September. Writers Sylvia Vollenhoven and Basil Appollis took the research and wrote the script. I am privileged to be performing live on stage.’

It’s a few days before the production premiers at the National Arts Festival. Are you ready for the opening?
‘I could do with another week. It’s such a huge story, a bit long which confronts one with what to omit and delete and what to include. Its also such a rich and detailed life and we are confronted with the challenge of what to leave out and what to include.
In ‘Cold Case’, we touch on Dulcie’s life as a child growing up in Stellenbosch, her bannings and security harassment and her decision to leave South Africa and go into exile and join the ANC.

Was it painful and hurting to research and write about Dulcie September’s life?
It was certainly inspirational. Dulcie’s focus on women and children was paramount to her existence, hen human rights.

And Dulcie September’s Death? Do you answer it in ‘Cold Case’?
No. Dulcie’s death is not resolved in ‘Cold Case’. Until today, her death hasn’t been closed. We don’t know who is responsible for Dulcie September’s murder. We leave the audience with many questions and plots to wade through; hence, the productions title ‘Cold Case’. Her death was indeed brutal and tragic, but the focus is less on who murdered her and more about her life of humanity and commitment to fighting injustices.

And after NAF in Grahamstown, where will the production be performed?
For now, we are all focused on the NAF. No other dates or venues are finalised. But performances in Cape Town and the Western Cape are being planned. After the NAF we will have a better idea of audience reaction and how we could further develop and tweek the production.

* ‘Cold Case’ is performed by Denise Newman, directed by Basil Appollis and written by Sylvia Vollenhoven and Basil Appollis