Archive | February, 2017

South Africa’s White Sportsmen Are Talented But Also Guilty Of Consolidating Whiteness By Cheryl Roberts

20 Feb

White people in South Africa – most white people – have never wanted to connect sport and society in South Africa, preferring to have an opinion that sports and society were separated. This is how they argued and defended their white privilege and apartheid favouritism during the apartheid era.

When defending themselves and apartheid sport, whites said that South Africa should be allowed to play international sport with the rest of the world, that they didn’t do any wrong by playing sport in apartheid South Africa. And they never called out the social, economic and racial injustices in South Africa. They never did. They claimed they had to obey the laws of the government and the country.

White sports people played sport with those who supported and enacted apartheid’s horrendous laws, never denouncing apartheid as cruel and inhumane.

For white sportsmen like Gary Player, Joost van der Westhuizen and Ernie Els, their profiles as world class sportsmen were built on foundations of them being white and privileged and favoured in South Africa, a country that fiercely looked after the white group and viciously humiliated the majority blacks with oppression and exploitation.

At least three of South Africa’s world class white sportsmen Gary Player, Joost van der Westhuizen and Ernie Els, represent white male superiority in sport. Playing golf in the 1950’s and 1960’s with Papwa Sewgolum, one of South Africa’s greatest black golfers, Player never could make himself believe in black golf talent. When Papwa Sewgolum beat him in the Natal Open golf tournament in the late 50’s, Player very quickly chose to check Sewgolum’s score card, thinking he ‘might have cheated to win’. Player didn’t stop white golf officials from handing Sewgolum his championship trophy through the window, on a rainy day in Durban, because only whites were allowed into the club house.

Talented Springbok rugby player Joost van der Westhuizen played his international rugby in white-dominated Springbok teams and got to show his rugby prowess in post-apartheid sports competition. Joost never ever spoke out and questioned the white domination of players in the men’s Springbok team. For white players like van der Westhuizen, the Springbok men’s team belonged to and was owned by white players. That was white people’s ownership and heritage. Actually, when critical questions were raised by society about lack of black Springbok players, Joost van der Westhuizen was one of those white players who believed ‘black players had to prove themselves’.

Champion golfer Ernie Els got to represent a free and democratic South Africa on the on the international golf courses but Els never spoke out against apartheid’s legacy of structural economic and racial inequalities.

All three white sportsmen never publicly supported the African national Congress (ANC), the country’s liberation organisation and political winner in national elections but they would did endorse Nelson Mandela.

Springbok great Joost van der Westhuizen has passed away, never having called for an end to white Springbok teams and for black players to be represented in Springbok rugby team. Then there’s the other two of Gary Player and Ernie Els; still living and putting their views out there.

The world of humanity and freedom and justice has attacked and called out USA President Donald trump for his sexism, racism, religious prejudice, misogyny. But not SA’s two great white golfers Gary Player and Ernie Els.

8cheryl roberts  in the rain forest in ghana

Cheryl Roberts (writer of the blog)

They both go along and play golf with Donald Trump, refuse to call out the man for his prejudices, racism, misogyny and say ‘it all seems okay with him while glowing in admiration for him.

Undoubtedly, white sportsmen like Player, van der Westhuizen and Els have performed admirably and claimed exceptional feats on the sports stage. But their protection of whiteness in sport, their blinkered view of the correlation between sports and society, their relationships with people who are known to be racists, misogynists and perpetrators of white domination in sport will forever place them in that gallery of sportspeople who had no critical consciousness, had no heart to talk out against racial and colour injustices in sport and society. Sportsmen such as these white men South Africans will always be known as defending all that existed to preserve whiteness and white hegemony.

SAFA Must Prioritise Advancing Women’s Football By Cheryl Roberts

14 Feb

If you raise critical questions about the state of women’s football in South Africa, the custodian of organised girls and women’s football in SA, the South African football Association will very quickly reply something about how they are ‘doing a lot’ for women’s football.

SAFA have, over the past two years, given more attention and budget to women’s football with the utilisation of experienced foreign women coaches, much more international matches for the senior national women’s team and doing on-time-payments to Banyana Banyana.

But, it’s the national women’s team, that has disappointed and hasn’t returned expected dividends from the investments.

Banyana didn’t qualify for the 2015 Women’s World Cup, they finished 4th at AWC in Namibia in 2014, they qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics, a feat they had before accomplished under a male coach. They couldn’t score goals at the Olympics, despite having good international match preparation leading up to the Olympics, yet they scored at the 2012 London Olympics with a male coach at the helm.

They come back from the Olympics having played much more international matches and been in national camp much more than any other African women’s football playing country, yet Banyana displayed one of their worst performances at the 2016 AWC in Cameroon. At this prestige continental women’s football event, with a South African woman as interim head coach, Banyana Banyana finished in an embarassing 4th position; a tournament they were expected to win, given all the training and international matches they had done.

And then you get some SAFA officials falsely believing Banyana Banyana being the ‘best team’ at 2016 AWC; this despite a disgusting 4th position result. How can you be ‘the best team’ when you didn’t win or qualify for the finals? If you were the best team how come Banyana players were not signed up for the lucrative women’s football leagues outside of Africa?

That’s not all. Afer all their training and international matches, Banyana dropped to position 51 on FIFA’s women’s world rankings.

When will the national women’s football league be established so women footballers can play the sport full-time and get paid salaries instead of playing international football as part-timers? When will SAFA appoint coaches who can coach Banyana Banyana into a winning team on the African continent and take Banyana into the world’s top 20?

In my opinion, SAFA should rather shift focus on establishing the national women’s professional league, using the money spent on Banyana to develop much more depth of players. After a season of professional women’s football, talent identification should be done and a Banyana Banyana team/squad selected.

Forget about the present Banyana team; most are ageing and not delivering the international feats expected of them. Why concentrate on veteran players when they are nowhere near being world class and when the youth players have more chances of  being developed into world class footballers? Develop a young and emerging team instead of hoping for victories from a team taking up most of the national women’s football budget and not having the skills or football prowess to deliver. SAFA says look at Banyana’s reasults, they are losing by a few goals to the world’s best football countries. Is Banyana playing only to display how closely they lose so as to claim their improvement? No, it shouldn’t be like that! Look at Banyana’s performances in AWC events. The Banyana captain fortunately only now got an outside-of-Africa club signing. If she was of world class pedigree why didn’t she get one before, years ago? West Africa’s young women footballers are being signed up outside of Africa. Why about Banyana Banyana players?

And what about the u20 women’s and u17 girls teams? Why are they not in regular competition? Over the past two years, both women’s football youth teams didn’t qualify for their respective age group world cups. European countries are playing u17 internationals whilst South Africa’s youth women’s football teams are not engaged in international competition. Southern African football can’t even organise a nations cup tournament for u17 and u20 women’s football; yet Southern African women’s football is expected to advance in Africa.

Is SAFA’s  R6 million a year high performance training project in Pretoria really delivering the results? How do players get selected to be based at the high performance centre? Is it provincial recommendation or someone just contacts someone at SAFA and says ‘I have a teenage girl for the high performance centre’.

And then there’s the selection of national players, around which much discontent and anger exists amongst women footballers around South Africa. Club favouritsm in national selection of all women’s football teams must be eliminated! The best players must be chosen to play international football! As an example a team that has the most Banyana players at the national play-offs in December 2016 couldn’t win the SA title!

These critical questions are being raised and asked because we are being fed propaganda about the state of women’s football in SA under SAFA. An intelligent person with a sharp mind must be scouted and appointed to take women’s football forward in SA; someone with ideas that will advance elite women’s football. Is there a woman coach in SA that can make Banyana a winning team?  SAFA mustn’t hide these questions; they must answer them brutally, truthfully and honestly.

8cheryl roberts  in the rain forest in ghana

Cheryl Roberts (writer of the blog)

Why Are South Africa’s Anti-Apartheid Sports Women Erased And Ignored In Memorialisation By Cheryl Roberts

5 Feb

The role and contribution of

8cheryl roberts  in the rain forest in ghana

Cheryl Roberts (writer of the blog)

oppressed and black women in sport, to South Africa’s struggle for freedom from apartheid and a democratic country, is largely undocumented, almost invisible and largely ignored.

In South Africa, there’s no national or provincial or city galleries or museums existing in memory of the black women who participated in anti-apartheid sport and helped advance the struggle for freedom in South Africa, largely through sport.

The memory bank in existence for this documentation, memory and knowledge is in the personal archives of the women participants themselves, in their families and the communities of sport in which they not only played and enjoyed their sport, but also resisted apartheid in sport and society.

The democratic era of participation in Sport in south Africa just found no time or space to give honour, respect and acknowledgement to the women who existed in anti-apartheid sports resistance, being the foundation and rock of sports development when the apartheid regime sought to advance only apartheid/whites only  sport.

Without this visual and written documentation and memorialisation of the role and contribution of women in anti-apartheid sport, there exists the perception that oppressed and black women didn’t play sport before 1994, that black girls and women only got involved in organised sports and sport’s activities in democratic South Africa.

Just like white women, Black women have been involved in sport for over a century; They have been in rugby and cricket clubs, played hockey and softball, swam the pool in competitions and been on the athletics track, and many other sports.

Black women have been sports leaders and officials, showed sports talent and prowess when competing, assisted men-dominated sports teams like rugby and cricket with support and encouragement. Participating in sport where men were in control in leadership positions, the women were given roles which the men-dominated officialdom thought best fits their ‘role in the home and society’ such as catering and food provision at meetings, typing of minutes and meeting information and being partners when the men officials attended events and functions.

Black women in sport have been amongst the founding members of anti-apartheid sports organizations in South Africa. Although primary documents will reveal men officials as executive committee members, presidents and secretaries, the women were forming clubs at community and grassroots levels of participation in sport. But this anti-apartheid sport involvement of black women took place in a patriarchal, male-dominated society which impacted the visibility of women in leadership positions and officialdom in sport.

But the women played their role and made their contribution to anti-apartheid sport and the creation of South Africa’s democratic era. It was the women as wives, girlfriends, mothers, aunts, family and community members who were the rock of anti-apartheid sport, who endured their husbands and partners were able to participated in sport while they did the household chores and prepared the men for their roles in sport.

Oppressed girls and women were able to participate in sport albeit in under-resourced and disadvantaged communities and schools. And they chose to play anti-apartheid sport and resist apartheid in society.

It was women who helped with setting up meeting venues, providing the food at meetings and conferences, hosted meetings at their homes, prepared the children, youth and men for their sports participation. It was the women who did the cheering on at sports events and the fundraising. And it was the women who cared for the family home when the men were playing sport and resisting apartheid sport. There are those who will say ‘forget the past and let it be’. Why should we just forget the past when it’s because of the past that you today enjoy international sports and play sport in democratic South Africa? Who laid this foundation for you? Who resisted apartheid and challenged the apartheid regime so apartheid could be eliminated? It was the oppressed women involved in apartheid sport, those women who helped build and develop non-racial sport from grassroots levels of participation.

And most of those women are still living, many of them still involved in community and club sport. And they still participate in sport just for the passion, with no payment. So how about some honour and recognition, a national gallery of memory that will ensure the pivotal contribution of anti-apartheid sportswomen and women in sport to South Africa’s freedom, will never be erased?