Support Women Coaches In South African Sport! By Cheryl Roberts

3 Oct

South African sport has gender imbalances across the sports paradigm, especially in coaching. Women coaches exist in sport but the numbers are small. Women coaches can be found at grassroots, club and provincial levels of sport with fewer women occupying national coaching positions. It’s always been about the prowess and talent of male sports coaches.

Male coaches are found in most sports, as head coach of the national team such as women’s cricket, women’s rugby, women’s basketball, women’s hockey. Women coaches have occupied head coach status of international women’s teams such as football and netball with football appointing a foreign woman coach as its first head coach and netball being coached sometimes by South African women coaches and sometimes by foreign women coaches.

But there exists a dearth of what is termed ‘qualified’ women coaches with women lacking in appointments because they don’t have the ‘certificates and qualifications’. Most sports federations offer coaching certification, especially at Level 1 and level 2 stages and some women do attend these courses. But it’s the elite stage of coaching which women seem to miss out on while men get to attend these courses.

It’s always about money and time. In an unequal society such as South Africa, the constraints of money and payment will always be there. And because they are women, the challenge of having the time, is another constraint. It’s also the black women who are not seen as coaches and being given the chance to be appointed as a provincial and national coach.

The world and Olympic success of Olympic champion Wayde van Niekerk’s woman coach Anna Botha has not only spotlighted the coaching prowess of women coaches but has forced us to ask ‘where are South Africa’s women coaches’?. Just where are the women coaches at elite coaches and where are international black women coaches, almost non-existent? Is it because black women coaches are not being supported to be coaches? Is it because there’s no belief in black women as coaches?

Those in charge of sport in SA, such as SASCOC and Sport and Recreation South Africa have got to invest in and support women in coaching. Some of the more advanced levels of coaching courses cost money and are expensive. How about a women coaches scholarship fund being set up? This should go a long way in encouraging more women coaches and assisting women to become qualified and know the tools of their trade.

A much more encouraging environment must also be enabled, one that will allow for women to believe in themselves as coaches at all levels of sport and to grow in confidence. Successful Olympic coach Anna Botha has done it all and proven that women can coach in sport and achieve the best sports results as women coaches.

South Africa’s sports network and sports pyramid is so male-dominated and male-controlled that women are left out of the coaching framework with positions given to men, even when the sport is played by women.

We have to break this system, this framework which deprives women of coaching positions, this thinking which sees women as being less able to coach than men, and the money deprivation which prohibits black women from attending expensive advanced coaching courses. And why should South African sport be ryling on foreign women coaches? Why have we not developed elite women coaches in SA?

When I question the absence and invisibility of black women questions, don’t question this and answer by saying ‘all women coaches’. I refer specifically to black women because they are the most neglected, challenged, discriminated against, and left out and deprived in the coaching framework.

Where are the black women coaches in senior netball, senior athletics and the black African women coaches in football? Why are they missing? Most senior internationals

Quit sport altogether after retiring from competitive sport. Just a handful stay in the game as club coaches. Why is this? Most senior internationals don’t see themselves having a future as coaches because the belief in women coaches is missing, because the sportswomen don’t think they can also be a woman coach.

An increasing number of women have attended the basic or entry level of SAFA’s football coaching course but most of the women then discover they don’t have the money to go onto the next levels.

Women do a lot for sport in South Africa. They contribute as sports fans, as partners, as mothers, as consumers, as volunteer officials and as athletes. Sport’s governing bodies can do much more for women in sport and support women coaches because having just men coaching girls sports teams and girl athletes is not healthy or progressive. Girls in sport must know that women can and do coach. Thy must see the woman coach in action, coaching girls and women in sport.

Money should not prohibit and constrain women should they want to be coaches. Sport needs women coaches and women must be supported and encouraged to achieve the highest coaching qualifications and be given the opportunity to coach.wayde-and-tannie-ans-botha

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