Archive | February, 2015

Selection Of South Africa’s Women Football Players Raises Concerns By Cheryl Roberts

25 Feb

There is much despondency and unhappiness about national selections for South Africa’s various women’s football teams, two of them being Banyana Banyana and the SA under 20 women’s team. I speak to many people involved in women’s football and I also observe women’s football. I am not a member of a women’s football club; I’m on the outside. And from this outside position, I observe much negatives occurring in women’s football in SA. I raise these concerns because we want the best for women’s football, for girl footballers to be inspired, for layers and coaches to feel they all belong to the women’s football family and that selections are not regionally biased or favoured.

I’ve watched and observed how selections are done for national women’s football teams and, in my opinion, we are not looking at the vast talent available. The national coaches don’t look at talent around the country and they don’t know what is available. How do you explain only one player being selected from SAFA Western Cape to represent Banyana Banyana at the Cyprus Cup next month when SAFA WC won the SA u19 title and SAFA CT’s Cape Town Roses are the SA champs? And, the other example is the SA under 20 women’s team that did not have one player from the champion region that is SAFA WC.

I am not a regionally biased person; I am not speaking here just for one region. I am using SAFA WC as an example as it’s a very real example. What about players and coaches from other regions?

Then there’s Banyana Banyana, the national women’s team. Vera Pauw, a qualified coach with strong football credentials got appointed as SA’s first women’s football coach. I thought this was a positive appointment.  As head coach, one of  Pauw’s mandates was to qualify SA for their first women’s world cup. That didn’t happen in Namibia in October 2014. You can’t blame the coach, I said, if the players don’t score goals and win matches. Re-appoint Vera Pauw, I said, so women’s football can go forward.

Vera Pauw was re-appointed women’s football coach. About a week ago, four months after the African Women’s Championship in Namibia, SAFA announced that Banyana Banyana were to participate in the Cyprus nations cup in March. Pauw called up 30 players and announced a 21 member team to travel to Cyprus.

Firstly, selections in sport never satisfy everyone. As followers/armchair coaches/supporters/fans of a sport we always think we know who should be selected. My opinion of this Banyana squad is that it’s an ageing squad, that several of these players failed to perform in the AWC and contributed to SA not qualifying for the women’s football world cup.

A coach is in charge; they should know what team they think has the best chance of performing and winning. Should this Banyana Banyana team not perform and win matches at the Cyprus Cup, what are the likely reasons we can expect? One of them will be that Banyana is out of training and match pay because they last played in Namibia; they need much more international matches at this level.

The question is: how much longer do you try to go forward with a team of players that isn’t achieving what is set out to be achieved? Surely the squad gets reviewed, out go the non-performing players, and in come the latest selections, especially the emerging players?

I do believe that Banyana Banyana coach Vera Pauw is knowledgeable, that she wants Banyana to achieve positive international results and that she wants more support for women’s football in SA. But the horrendous reality is that the national coach doesn’t know what talent is available around South Africa because she has seen very little women’s football in the country. Pauw is based in Gauteng, has been in Cape Town once, where she saw two matches. Pauw was present at the Sasol national championship in Port Elizabeth where she saw the final between Cape Town Roses and Super Falcons. It could be that she was so busy preparing Banyana Banyana for the AWC that’s he couldn’t also scout and observe talent around SA.

South Africa was represented by an under 20 women’s football team at the Southern African Games in Zimbabwe in December. I was shocked to see that the team didn’t one player from the Western Cape. After all, SAFA WC had won the under 19 SA inter-provincial in Limpopo and Sasol League team Cape Town Roses, one of the country’s top women’s football teams, has several u20 players.

I wanted to know how this team was selected. I asked around, no one from WC football seemed to know about how the u20 women’s team got selected. I asked SAFA employee, Fran Hilton Smith how the team got selected. She said that SAFA said there is no budget for this competition which meant no trials, no training camps. The team’s participation in the Games was being paid for by SASCOC. Within SAFA, and amongst some employees, it was decided to select an under 20 women’s football teams from players based at the high performance team so that women’s football could be represented at the Games in Zimbabwe. All other players around SA were not considered because here was ‘no money’ to conduct trials. SAFA knew these Games were being held, that women’s football would be part of the Games. Why was team selection not done earlier? How can you exclude youth players from around SA, whom participate in football, many are very talented, several should be representing SA in various age groups. SA won the tournament. But please remember that Southern Africa women’s football is much weaker than SA.

I’m concerned about this state of affairs when it comes to selection because what is happening is that women’s football seems to be a Gauteng-based affair. How do talented players and coaches, playing and coaching outside of Gauteng and Northern parts of SA, get recognized and selected? Players get called up to the Banyana squad and are given one two or three days to show what they can do. Then the selection committee decides that the players don’t have what it takes to play for Banyana. But how do you judge players on this once-off performance?  The players are playing regular football competition for their clubs and are displaying football prowess.

These concerns must be raised because it’s unhealthy for the future development of women’s football in SA and because player identification is not being done. Players and coaches are despondent. They want to know what they must do to get national attention.

In my opinion, we support the national women’s team, believe in the coaching and selection panel. Should you achieve dismal results, like no victories and goals at the Cyprus Cup, and a few matches thereafter, then the coach must be assessed and the non-performing players, not called up for representation. We don’t have time for excuses like the team needs more international friendlies. SA has a foundation of emerging youth women players, waiting to play international football. Select these players and give them chances to represent and demonstrate their football talent. We want SA’s women’s football teams to go forward, not backwards.

 Picture 219

Middle Class/Professional Women Activists Must Be Authentic About ‘Activism’ By Cheryl Roberts

17 Feb

Middle class/professional women ‘activists’ and feminists are irritating, and annoying; at least for me, and in my opinion. And they irk me, especially when they decide, on their terms and timing, that social justice campaigns must be undertaken and spearheaded.

I’m referring to that bloc of women whom seemingly have all the theory and knowledge about activism, yet fail to present themselves in the activism trenches.

I’m using a reference of LGBTI/queer activism. What more does a significant, pivotal and meaningful community organization like Freegender, which is rooted in working class Khayalitsha, have to do to be supported, acknowledged, heard and respected?

I’m asking this because, in the five years of their existence, this non-funded civil society structure has really walked their queer activist journey mostly on their own, with a few committed allies, partners and friends.

Freegender always makes public their social justice/protest/planning events, yet it’s always a handful of people from outside Khayalitsha and black communities that attend or give support or collaborate with Freegender. Where are you when Freegender protests rapists, sexual assault and abuse of black lesbians? Why don’t you attend the memorial services and funerals of fallen black lesbian? Freegender has protested outside parliament, held LGBTI conferences and marches, delivered memorandums but you were not with Freegender in struggle. Freegender has also celebrated life, yet you chose not to celebrate with them.

Why are working class black women and social justice activists, the women based in and still living in the hood/township/ekasi, not considered powerful and significant or given respect?

And I know the answer is going to be ‘I didn’t know about the Freegender meetings and events’. Yeah, I’m sure you didn’t. Yet, you make sure you are informed about events hosted by white people, rich NGO’s and those in the city centre and suburbs.

Freegender has initiated, not this year in 2015, but back in 2012, discussion around the significance and relevance of ‘Pride’ in Cape Town. This was undertaken because Freegender had the vision to know that ‘Pride’ had moved away from being honest and true to its birthing, that ‘Pride’ committees were dominated by white men, most of whom had started pushing a DA political agenda within ‘Pride’, that ‘Pride’ was more centred on partying and good times, than on social relevance and existence.

At least two KhumbaIMG_0213nanie prides have been held in the hood, away from the business district of white owners. Both events were not supported by those not living in the black townships. Freegender took a decision to suspend participation in ‘Pride 2014’ until they could resolve the significance of ‘Pride’ in its present context.

Late last year, Freegender hosted discussion around the significance, inclusivity and relevance of ‘Pride’ in Cape Town. I wasn’t at the meetings but kept myself informed about deliberations. The meetings have been held in the city centre, outside of Khayalitsha.

Now, there is what I call hysteria, criticism, writing, social media outrage and protest about the white male domination and control of ‘Pride’. What irks me is that those now speaking out, are saying stuff as if there has been no activism, as if Freegender doesn’t exist or is unknown.

Get this! Freegender has initiated advocacy, perhaps not activism, at changing and re-shaping and steering ‘Pride’ onto its relevant path.

Why have you (whomever you are) not supported, backed and gotten involved in the meetings? Manje (Now), you want to scream about the whiteness of ‘Pride’, about how ‘Pride’ is socially prejudiced and discriminates.

I’m not sure if I’m getting my ideas across in this blog, or whether I’m ranting about too much. What I’m going on about is how people, most of them middle class, NGO-employed, professional, academic, types (those who have on paper and on social media, answers for and when activism should be initiated) decide ‘Now Is The Time’, without acknowledging that the ‘Time Was Decided’ some time ago.

Why have you not supported campaigns and protests undertaken by Freegender? Why must your support and acknowledgment be allocated to city/suburban/richNGO-based organisations?

I’m talking to you, that bloc of middle class, professional NGO employed, academic, feminist women. Question yourselves, be honest in your self-appraisal. I assure you that you will be found wanting!

Middle Class/Professional Women Activists Must Be Authentic About ‘Activism’ By Cheryl Roberts

16 Feb

Middle class/professional women ‘activists’ and feminists are irritating, and annoying; at least for me, and in my opinion. And they irk me, especially when they decide, on their terms and timing, that social justice campaigns must be undertaken and spearheaded.

I’m referring to that bloc of women whom seemingly have all the theory and knowledge about activism, yet fail to present themselves in the activism trenches.

I’m using a reference of LGBTI/queer activism. What more does a significant, pivotal and meaningful community organization like Freegender, which is rooted in working class Khayalitsha, have to do to be supported, acknowledged, heard and respected?

I’m asking this because, in the five years of their existence, this non-funded civil society structure has really walked their queer activist journey mostly on their own, with a few committed allies, partners and friends.

Freegender always makes public their social justice/protest/planning events, yet it’s always a handful of people from outside Khayalitsha and black communities that attend or give support or collaborate with Freegender. Where are you when Freegender protests rapists, sexual assault and abuse of black lesbians? Why don’t you attend the memorial services and funerals of fallen black lesbian? Freegender has protested outside parliament, held LGBTI conferences and marches, delivered memorandums but you were not with Freegender in struggle. Freegender has also celebrated life, yet you chose not to celebrate with them.

Why are working class black women and social justice activists, the women based in and still living in the hood/township/ekasi, not considered powerful and significant or given respect?

And I know the answer is going to be ‘I didn’t know about the Freegender meetings and events’. Yeah, I’m sure you didn’t. Yet, you make sure you are informed about events hosted by white people, rich NGO’s and those in the city centre and suburbs.

Freegender has initiated, not this year in 2015, but back in 2012, discussion around the significance and relevance of ‘Pride’ in Cape Town. This was undertaken because Freegender had the vision to know that ‘Pride’ had moved away from being honest and true to its birthing, that ‘Pride’ committees were dominated by white men, most of whom had started pushing a DA political agenda within ‘Pride’, that ‘Pride’ was more centred on partying and good times, than on social relevance and existence.

At least two Khumbananie prides have been held in the hood, away from the business district of white owners. Both events were not supported by those not living in the black townships. Freegender took a decision to suspend participation in ‘Pride 2014’ until they could resolve the significance of ‘Pride’ in its present context.

Late last year, Freegender hosted discussion around the significance, inclusivity and relevance of ‘Pride’ in Cape Town. I wasn’t at the meetings but kept myself informed about deliberations. The meetings have been held in the city centre, outside of Khayalitsha.

Now, there is what I call hysteria, criticism, writing, social media outrage and protest about the white male domination and control of ‘Pride’. What irks me is that those now speaking out, are saying stuff as if there has been no activism, as if Freegender doesn’t exist or is unknown.

Get this! Freegender has initiated advocacy, perhaps not activism, at changing and re-shaping and steering ‘Pride’ onto its relevant path.

Why have you (whomever you are) not supported, backed and gotten involved in the meetings? Manje (Now), you want to scream about the whiteness of ‘Pride’, about how ‘Pride’ is socially prejudiced and discriminates.

I’m not sure if I’m getting my ideas across in this blog, or whether I’m ranting about too much. What I’m going on about is how people, most of them middle class, NGO-employed, professional, academic, types (those who have on paper and on social media, answers for and when activism should be initiated) decide ‘Now Is The Time’, without acknowledging that the ‘Time Was Decided’ some time ago.

Why have you not supported campaigns and protests undertaken by Freegender? Why must your support and acknowledgment be allocated to city/suburban/richNGO-based organisations?

I’m talking to you, that bloc of middle class, professional NGO employed, academic, feminist women. Question yourselves, be honest in your self-appraisal. I assure you that you will be found wanting!IMG_0213

PhotoEssay……’In The Game: Hood Girls in Sport’ By Cheryl Roberts

12 Feb

Picture 219IMG_4139IMG_3203Copy of 3girls footballIMG_0750IMG_2116IMG_2171IMG_2564IMG_2578IMG_2608IMG_3153IMG_3893IMG_3898IMG_3926IMG_5101IMG_5538IMG_5593IMG_6176IMG_6620IMG_7280IMG_9561Picture 084Picture 148Picture 958Picture 1491

Eliminate Government Departments Of Sport In South Africa? By Cheryl Roberts

5 Feb

South African sport at grassroots level is not in a healthy state. Successful international participation belies the honest situation of struggles to participate in sport. Yet, provincial sports departments exist with budgets to operate and ensure the provision of sport, whilst sports federations and clubs are battling to stay alive in sport. Do we need sports departments soaking up the sports budgets whilst sports federations struggle to survive with meagre budgets?

South Africa has a sports ministry with a Minister of Sport, one national sports department and nine provincial departments of sport. Amongst these departments of sport is a budget of over one billion rand. After 20 years of a non-racial, democratic government, we are now asking whether we are seeing effective and productive results from the departments of sport.

South Africa competes internationally in sport, sometimes attaining world champion or gold medal status, continental champion, world class ranking or not making the international grade. It may appear that South African sport is well-financed and massively funded, given that teams and athletes represent the country regularly.

It’s very hard to believe that only a few national sports teams and athletes are sponsored, whilst some sports still require athletes to contribute personal money to represent the country, for example, swimming.

But why do need the provincial sports departments to have budget allocations whilst the sports federations don’t have much money to survive. Grassroots sport is still heavily reliant on volunteer coaches and officials, most of whom use their personal time and money to fund grassroots clubs and participation in sport. Participation in sport in working class schools and communities is an ongoing struggle because of the money need to play and enjoy sport.

South Africa doesn’t have a massive sports budget allocated to the national sport department to manage and oversee sport in the country. The R500 million plus budget is still not seen as enough for the needs of sport.

But how effective are these government departments of sport? I have not done a national survey or national in depth research, but the investigative journalism I’ve undertaken, speaking to people inside and outside of government, is enough to inform me that the sports departments are not as effective as they should be.

South Africa has a national department of sport, Sport and Recreation SA. All nine provinces have a provincial sports department; this department is coupled with arts and culture.

At least 50% of the provincial sports budget goes on salaries. At least R5 milion per month is spent nationally on provincial salaries for sports departments. Why are we paying so much of the sports budget on salaries, for people who are mostly in office, writing documents and reports sitting at computers, when money is needed by sports federations to advance, develop and organise sport?

What about the national department of sport that has a big staff contingent soaking up a big portion of the sports budget? Honestly speaking, just how effective are these sports departments? Several officials of sports federations are adamant that the sports departments are not as effective as they should be, that the sports departments conduct piece meal, adhoc events, sit in offices and write up reports, when they should be outside offices, developing sport on the sports terrain.

The biggest and overwhelming complaint against the sports departments, including SRSA, is the lateness of funding grants delivered into the bank accounts of sports federations. Sports leaders and officials have had enough of not knowing when the money is being paid. They say they can’t do much with no money, not knowing when they will be able to function with money.

Let’s break this down realistically and confront the existence of government sports departments. We want sport in South Africa to develop, grow and be managed efficiently; we want sports to be played and provided for, especially in communities struggling for resources and money to play sport.

We are not going to achieve much with the sports budget if half of this budget allocation is for paying salaries. Sport is organized by sports federations and sports structures. There also exist the sports councils and confederations of sport which must be rooted at grassroots level. We don’t need government sports departments. Awards and honouring functions, team send offs, seminars and workshops, all sports functions should be held under the auspices of the sports councils. Coaching clinics and development work must be conducted by the sports federation.

I ask again, why we need sports departments to exist when they give the country no authentic and honest reason to exist. Sports federations are not satisfied with their productivity, efficiency and delivery? In sports departments around South Africa, there are some very committed and efficient public servants. However, there are many lazy, unproductive and inefficient ones as well.

Sport in South Africa should be controlled by a national structure such as SASCOC. Obviously, SASCOC would need to be expanded and strengthened. Close government departments so we have much more budget to be used effectively for the development and growth of sport. Increase national grants to sports federations. Of course, national federations must be checked, scrutinised and accountable.

Grassroots level of participation in sport MUST increase and clubs must grow. At least, more budget will be made available for grassroots participation in sport.

There should exist a ministry of sport or a commission of sport to oversee sport nationally and to make SASCOC accountable, but not a department of sport. I still opt for a Minister of Sport, operating with a sports commission or ministry. But this national structure must be small, tight knit, efficient and productive. At provincial level, MEC’s must be done away, perhaps replaced by a commissioner.

I don’t have the answers for the type of structure/management to replace the departments of sport but what I do know is that sports departments should be eliminated. When I say this, I’m not against people having government jobs. What I am challenging is the usefulness of government sports departments when sports federations are struggling for money to function.'south african sport'. published by cheryl roberts. published in december 2014. published in cape town. south africa