Archive | May, 2017

South Africa’s Minister Of Sport Must Challenge Inequalities In SA Sport By Cheryl Roberts

17 May

For Minister of Sport, Mr Thembelani Nxesi and South African sport, it all happened so quickly; the recent cabinet reshuffle of the Republic of South Africa. It’s a political appointment in the ANC-administered national government. For now, let’s leave aside which political party Mr Nxesi represents, or the fact that he’s in the cabinet of a President, severely and seriously challenged by groupings of citizens in South Africa.

Let’s get started by acknowledging we are living in a structurally unequal, male-controlled, minority wealthy, white privilege South Africa, where we are involved in sport as participants and consumers and want opportunities to play sport in the country.

I’m not giving a report card about predecessor, Fikile Mbalula and how he managed, administered and responded to leadership of sports organisation and development. As the political head of sport and recreation in South Africa, the Minister of Sport must understand and acknowledge how sport operates in an unequal society, where the minority middle class and privileged elites have easier access to sport than the majority working class; this because of their class position and money.

It’s paramount that Mr Nxesi gets going by ensuring Sport and Recreation South Africa is not managed as an events company, hosting events here and there, flaunting achievements and accomplishment on how many events are hosted whenever.

I’m telling Minister Nxesi upfront that girls and women in sport have had enough of being victims of gender inequalities and discrimination in sport. South Africa’s women in sport are demanding not to be neglected, marginalised or hardly supported.

National, professional and full-time leagues for women in sport are almost non-existent. How must South Africa’s women in sport thrive , compete internationally and produce performances when they compete in chains?

8cheryl roberts  in the rain forest in ghana

Cheryl Roberts (writer of the blog)

 

All national federations must produce vision/ambition blueprints about how women will be represented in sport; from club level to international athlete and officialdom. Black girls are participating in sport, but sadly most of them are being lost in the system and moving out the system. Why is this happening?

Discard the transformation rhetoric; never be afraid to honestly portray and admit that the sports network is one that functions amidst structural inequalities because it’s a capitalist sport network, flowing out of a structurally unequal society. Gender, class, race must inform all sport policies and implementation of policies when strategising sport in South Africa.

It’s because of the inequalities and discrimination, that we must understand precisely and consciously, what it takes to transform sport in South Africa.

Transformation is not about a few black officials and players/athletes in some national teams. Transformation of sport in democratic, non-racial South Africa is much more than quotas. It’s also about redistribution of the sports wealth, especially the apartheid sports wealth, and about eliminating gender discrimination and inequality. It involves assessment and re-design of the organisation of sport. Most importantly, it necessitates a commitment and fulfillment by action to ensure grassroots and community sport in working class communities are supported, so that the foundation of sport is strong and grows.

For the struggling working class, sport is a privilege. Why must working class children, youth and the unemployed pay registration fees to federations? Besides the registration costs, it’s the transport and playing kit costs. Provincial government sports departments must support the working class in sport!

Unless you go to a suburban or expensive fees school, your chances of falling out of the sports pyramid are much better than staying in sport to elite level.  Organisation and development of school sport in working class areas, must be looked after.

The Minister of Sport has much power to implement effective, significant and pivotal change. Leadership and officialdom of sports federations must be examined. We have this unhealthy situation where officials get into positions and stay there for over 5 years, sometimes holding officialdom for 10 and 15 years, serving 2 and 3 terms of office. These long serving officials then get so accustomed in their positions (and the perks) that go with the position, that they begin to assume they ‘own’the position and the sport.’ I suggest officials serve just a four year term and then move onto something else in the sport.

Under the Minister of Sport’s mangement/jurisdiction, are the nine provincial departments of sport, the government SRSA and SASCOC. The budgets of these structures which exist to provide for sport, how and on what the money is spent must be meticulously mapped out and implemented. Money is not reaching grassroots sport effectively! Why must some provincial and national team members contribute personal funds to official representation in sport? What are the departments of sport really doing? Community sport is struggling; its being kept alive by some volunteers in some communities.

Who ‘own’s sport in SA? Seemingly corporates control and own sport at elite and professional level because of the funding and sponsorship. Corporates and businesses might be associated with sport through their funding, but no way do they own the sport. National federations own sport!

Sport in South Africa is surviving by elite funding to elite/ corporate sports while the grassroots and working class sport is struggling to survive. The Minister of Sport can no longer occupy this position and assume sport is healthily growing and developing.

State Of Women’s Football In South Africa: Questions And More Questions For SAFA By Cheryl Roberts

9 May

Women’s football development and organisation is moving at a fast pace the world over and SAFA have got to get woke and revolutionise women’s football in South Africa. Girls and women are playing football in large numbers; this football enthusiasm must be supported within and by SAFA.

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The cries for a national professional women’s football league in South Africa have not only increased but are overwhelming. Women footballers, coaches, football spectators and women in sport activists are all calling for the establishment of a viable, sustained national women’s football league.

I do believe that SAFA is very much aware of these calls for professional women’s football to take root. So we have to give SAFA some time to get going and implement. But SAFA can’t take too long, like several years and then continue to place blame on lack of sponsor interest. This demand is national and deep-rooted. It is a significant demand; one that should take the future of women’s football into another realm.

In the meantime, why can’t SAFA introduce a national knockout/cup competition, starting with regional knockout events and culminating in a champions event or Top Eight tournament? The Sasol League doesn’t offer much; its the same competition year in and year out. What else do players have to play for and be motivated to play for?

The national play offs that brings the regional champion clubs together, at the end of season, to compete for the national title must be re-visited and re-deressed. This tournament doesn’t adequately give players a chance to play on bigger stages because only the regional champion team competes and there’s about 4-6 other teams that contain much talented players who need to be exposed to higher levels of competition. How about four national teams/squads being chosen every three months fin categories for Banyana Banyana, u20 and u17 teams; four teams of propsective, possible, probable, emerging players. Play them against each other. Appoint coaches from around the country. See what talent is available.

Let’s talk about entry into SAFA’s high performance centre, that costs oer R6million a year to maintain. How do girl footballers gain entry/acceptance into the high performance center which seemingly is the cradle for national team make-up in the u17 and u20 categories. Are coaches and clubs told the requirements? Who does the recommendation and selection? Is entry into high peformance centre the only way you will be selected for SAFA’s u17 and u20 women’s football teams? Are there national seletors and coaches who scout for talent throughout the season and who listen to recommendations from coaches? Are all SAFA regions scouted for talent?

Now let’s ask some question about Banyana Banyana coaches and selectors? When is SAFA going to appoint a head coach for Banyana Banyana so that coach is aware of employment contract and what must be delivered and achieved? An interim coach cannot operate on insecurity and one game pressure to deliver. If SAFA doesn’t have confidence in the incumbent interim Banyana coach, then SAFA must appoint a coach that they believe in! Are Banyana Banyana coaches and selectors allowed to be associated with a Sasol League women’s football club? What about conflict of interest when that coach will not want rival clubs to have their players recognised at international level? Who does the scouting for Banyana Banyana and women’s youth teams? Why is selection so toightly controlled with just a few people having input and selecting? Broaden the selectors and advisers. Banyana Banyana is the national interest; it should be involving much more football knowledge with more scouts and selectors.

Speaking to players and knowing their viewpoints is vital. Contemporary sport can’t and should not be run as a dictatorship with officials and the coach being ‘the dictator’ and doing the dictating. Engage the players in conversation; hear their inputs and opinions about the state of their team. Let them talk freely and without fear of being dropped and not selected.

SAFA must intoduce new leaders and officials to guide and administer women’s football in South Africa. Look at the awesome talent out there, the young women in football, educated with tertiary qualifications, playing tertiary sport and engaging in national conversation about women in sport. Invite these young women to submit ideas about taking women’s football forward, employ their brain prowess as consultants should they not want to be permanent employees at SAFA.

Development of national under 17 and under 20 teams are pivotal. These teams and players are feeder to the national senior team. Why no friendly internationals arranged for the national u17 girls and u20 women’s football teams? South Africa’s counterparts in these age groups in Europe and North America are consistently playing internationals and improving. Just playing in CAF-organised qualifying world cup matches is not enough and doesn’t adequately prepare our youth women footballers. Concentration should be on under 20 women footballers!

There are capable women as football officials. They must be given a chance to be there in positions of power and leadership so they can advance change. SAFA has a handful of women as head of portfolios but these are the same ageing women; been there over years and decades. Over time, these women get to believe they own the position and refuse going on pension. Bring in fresh, intelligent voices to help advance women’s football in the country. Some fierce, vibrant, revolutionary thinking women are much needed in SASA. But then again being male-dominated and controlled, would SAFA want thinking and conscious women in their midst?