Women Must Not Be Marginalised And Invisible In Commonwealth Games Organising  By Cheryl Roberts

3 Sep

durban 2022

Amidst varying and different opinions about whether South Africa should host another expensive major sports event, given the country’s challenges of unemployment and accommodation, under-resourced working class communities and rural areas, the 2022 hosting of the  Commonwealth Games has been awarded to the only surviving candidate city at the final announcement, that being Durban.

After South Africa’s hosting of several global sports events such as the men’s cricket, football and rugby world cups, by this time we must be on guard and not allow this to be another male-dominated and controlled event; this event being staged in Durban and hosted by the city on behalf of South Africa.

The Commonwealth Games doesn’t belong to male officialdom, employees and business associates; it belongs to South Africa’s humans of whatever gender and sexuality.

South Africa’s hosting of world cup events in golf, rugby, football rugby and cricket and several continental events, all demonstrated how men have benefitted from their involvement in organisational aspects of these games. Very few women have been allowed entrance into what is almost exclusively male terrain and domain, in these sports events.

Women’s involvement in sport in South Africa dates back to over a century where women supported men in sport and assisted them to play the game as vital and pivotal sports partners. Over the years, women participated in sports programmes and events as athletes, from club level to international level.

The city of Durban and the Games’ Organising Committee must be monitored and scrutinised to ensure that women are not kept out, left behind or given entrance here and there.

Durban has a horrendous record of leaving black women traders on the streets to trade while assisting foreigners (of all nationalities) to occupy trading sports in shops. I’m mentioning this as an example to show that women can’t be left on the streets to make daily living amounts and not be included in the city’s hosting of a mega sports event which is being staged to generate much business and revenue for the city.

KZN women in sport are more than strong and powerful; they contributed significantly to their husband’s and father’s involvement in the anti-apartheid sports struggle and in their own right to community, school, club and provincial sport, in the democratic South Africa. Much more women would be officials in sport at provincial and national level had they been given the same opportunities as men in sport.

You can already see the male domination of South Africa’s Commonwealth Games Bid Committee, when it was initiated. The men got the positions; the women were just about overlooked and shut out. Now the organising committee and various positions will be detailed and put in place. Already there are many men waiting and wanting to fill these positions. But what about the women?

Women have been left behind and left out of world cup and continental events held before in South Africa. Now comes the Commonwealth Games, seven years away. We already know that if given their chances men will nor remember or advance women and gender equality in all decisions taken but the men as a group will make sure they are looked after first.

We must not allow the event to be organised and staged then years later, allow researchers to come up with research and opinions telling us the Games was a male-dominated affair. Our account of previous mega sports events held in SA show us what a good deal men received and what a marginalised deal women were handed.

At all times anyone involved in organization of the Games or watching developments, especially the sport councils and sports federations and women interest groups and representatives must be on guard and question when they see male-control being looked after and consolidated.

And when it comes to representation of Team South Africa, the planning and development of the team that will represent host country South Africa at the 2022 Commonwealth Games starts now. No more must black girl athletes be left behind and not given the support and guidance they need to develop into adult athletes.

South Africa’s junior and youth teams already show much talent amongst our black sports girls. We are questioning why we see them disappearing and not appearing in national teams as seniors. And the black women coaches must not be invisible and non-existent at the Games or in Team SA.

No international or continental sports event hosted in South Africa must ever again be used to consolidate male control and hegemony in sport. Women and girls participate in sport and consume in sport. They are very much the foundation of a successful sports event being staged.


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