Archive | June, 2017

Phenomenal Wayde Van Niekerk Dazzles Without Chains By Cheryl Roberts

28 Jun

IMG_7285When he runs on the global athletics tracks, its as if Wayde van Niekerk wants to show the world how humans can compete in sport when they have no chains. He runs because he knows the happiness of participating in international sport, the pride of representing a democratic South Africa and knowing your talent’s worth, which Wayde believes is God-given.

Wayde van Niekerk hasn’t said much publicly which reveals his social justice consciousness. That he is socially aware and has a social justice consciousness, there’s no doubt. You can see this in the personal of the athlete that is this global superstar.

Wayde van Niekerk is very much aware of struggle in people’s lives, in society and in sport. He knows about his mother Odessa’s sprint prowess in 1980’s South Africa, being born oppressed and participating in sport for freedom. Wayde concentrates on his today’s and future. But his participation in and achievement on the world athletics stage is always a reminder about the past; the horrendous apartheid past that discriminated against oppressed athletes.

For the oppressed who participated in anti-apartheid sport, Wayde van Niekerk’s spectacular world record breaking feats and global titles help soften the pain and hurt of the lost time in our lives when we sacrificed and fought for freedom in our life time. Wayde demonstrates the abundance of talent out there. He also shows that talent must be developed, nurtured and supported. Today, Wayde runs with pride for South Africa, knowing the past that got him to where he competes internationally, an opportunity denied his champion sprint athlete mother.

Today, he runs with no chains, just the freedom of his talent and desire to discover his worth.  But perhaps he also carries with him that piece thats always remembering his mother for sacrificing her sports life so he could one day represent himself without chains.

Unknowingly, Wayde van Niekerk’s phenomenal athletics achievements have repaid over and over the debt owed to those who unselfishly contributed to freedom from apartheid and opportunities to participate internationally. This is because it’s again demonstrated that discrimination should never be allowed in sport, ever again in South Africa. Talent must be developed and supported.

Wayde van Niekerk wants to be known as a South African athlete.  For those of us still connecting the dots of the past to the present, Wayde represents the anti-apartheid spors struggle being worth it. He will always be the son of an anti-apartheid sport mother.

Woman Footballer Thembi Kgatlana Knows What She Wants From Football By Cheryl Roberts

27 Jun

South Africa’s international woman footballer,Thembi Kgatlana started playing football at age 8 in Mohlakeng on the West Rand.Today, just 21 years old, she’s an international woman footballer for South Africa, a student at University of the Western Cape in Cape Town, and a championship winning footballer. But that’s not all! Thembi Kgatlana is already hosting a community football tournament on the West Rand, sharing her football life with the community that gave her an opportunity to play grassroots football. Thembi Kgatlana knows who she is, values her worth and has her football ambitions nicely mapped out. She knows what she wants and she’s going after it all. This is the Q&A interview I did with one of South Africa’s most talented young women footballers,Thembi Kgatlana.


Thembi Kgatlana: South African football international

What motivated/inspired you to host a community football tournament?

Where I come from (Mohlakeng,West Rand region) there are plenty of world recognised names when it comes to sports. The likes of Ace Ntsoelengoe, Terra Mathebula (Boxer), Oupa Manyisa, Edward Manqele, Dukuduku Makhanya, Thapelo Morena, but disappointingly we have no soccer tournament or soccer clinics to improve the development and sportsmanship in the region. We have great teams like Mohlakeng four stars and TN Molefe, apart from others which often play tournaments hosted in other regions. I believe hosting this tournament will encourage people of Mohlakeng to take part in sports and continue to produce local and international stars.

What do you hope to achieve from this event?

The tournament is mainly used for encouraging development and it will also be used as a pillar of giving back to the community by giving away sanitary pads, school shoes, and blankets. Anyone can donate those items by contacting us on social media through instagram @kgatlana_tourn and on facebook @Thembi Kgatlana Tournament.

 Do you want to be playing professional women’s football outside of SA?

At the moment playing professional women’s football out of SA is a key priority for me, since we don’t have our own professional league, here in South Africa. So I have definitely considered pursuing my soccer football career outside of South Africa.

 Would you like to be a coach after playing competitive football?

I’m not so sure about me being a coach after my soccer career, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to plough my knowledge of football to the people who will come after me.

What are your football ambitions?

As an international woman footballer, I want to win the African Women’s Cup of Nations (AWCON), and be part of the AWCON dream team, qualify for the FIFA Women’s World Cup and be nominated for FIFA or CAF awards.

Which players do you rate for future Banyana selection? And your most admired women footballer and South African woman coach?

My favourite woman footballer is myself and Assisat Oshoala from Nigeria. Most admired South African woman coach is Sheryl Botes.  I would rate Thalea Smidt and Nelly Mamabolo (my team mates at UWC) for future Banyana selection.


Do you want to focus on your career in tourism or as a professional footballer?

If I could focus on them both I would preferably do that. However, I’m left with no choice but to put them according to priority. And at the moment my priority is focusing on being a professional footballer and later focusing on tourism, my future career.


How did it all begin for you, your football life? How has it progressed?

I started playing soccer when I was 8 years old, in Mohlakeng with a boys team called Napoli FC, the  same team that Oupa Manyisa played for when he was growing up. While playing for Napoli FC, I was forced to leave soccer by my parents because my mom was an athlete growing up and she wanted me to be an athlete as well, considering that I was very energetic and hyper active growing up. Only at the age of 11 years, I started playing for my primary school team (Mohlakano primary school), along with the  boys; up until they made a girls team when I was 14 years old. While playing for my primary school I joined a team called Parma Ladies FC (from Mohlakeng) which played in the Vodacom league back then and later in the Sasol League. Progressing to high school I played for A.B Phokompe senior secondary school (in Mohlakeng) and then joined a team from Swaneville called Lusaka Ladies FC in the Sasol League, for one season. It was in 2011 when I went to Denmark with Parma Ladies FC to participate in the Dana Cup tournament in Hjòrring. From there afterwards I can easily say that I took my talent very seriously. The very same year I joined the U/17 women’s national team of South Africa. The following year 2012, I went to SAFA’s High Performance Centre for further development, experience and gaining knowledge of football through techniques, tactics and physical strength, under the mentorship of coach Sheryl Botes and Shona Hendricks.  While in HPC I played for Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) in the Sasol League and was further groomed to be in the U/20 Women’s National team by Sheryl Botes. When I was doing my matric in 2014 at HPC, I was recognised by Vera Pauw, who by then was the newly appointed coach of South Africa’s senior women’s national team (Banyana Banyana). I was called in for trials and since then I have been part of the Banyana Banyana squad. I am currently playing for University of the Western Cape (UWC Ladies Club) which plays in the Western Cape Sasol League, and are current champions of the 2016 Western Cape Sasol League, champions of USSA 2016, Varsity cup runners-up 2016 and Coke Cup champions 2016.


Where Are The Black Netballers In SA Teams? By Cheryl Roberts

19 Jun

Alarmingly, black players are significantly much fewer than white players in two South African netball teams announced recently. These teams represent South Africa, a country of white minority people and black majority people. They are also selected by a national netball federation that has a foundation of majority black players, teams and clubs. So why are there only about 25 percent of black players in the national u21 and senior squads?

Netball South Africa, the custodian federation for administration, development, organisation and advancement of netball in South Africa recently announced two national teams. One team being the SA u21 for the youth world cup to be held in Botswana in July and the other being a national senior squad, preparing for future international competition.

But how does NSA explain that in a team of 12 for the SA u21 team, 8 players are white and four are black? And how again does NSA account for only 6 Black players being selected into a national senior squad of 26 players with 20 players being white.

Don’t say that coaches and selectors see beyond colour and race in sports selection. Colour and race do matter and are crucial. If you can see white talent in the youth and senior ranks then why can’t coaches and selectors see black talent?

There is black netball talent in South Africa. Look at the performances and growth of world class netballers Phumza Maweni and Bongi Msomi. If these two black players could have been noticed and selected, then can’t many other black netballers also get selected for international play?IMG_2731

I watched three rounds of the 2017 National Pro League in Cape Town and was astounded to see how five of the ten teams were white-dominated with a few black players in these teams. And it was the black-dominated teams that finished bottom five with the white-dominated teams finishing top five.

National coach Plummer may say she can only select ‘the best’ and seemingly ‘the best’ are largely from the white-dominated teams. The challenge of noticing black netballers is at regional and provincial level, where black netballers are being dissed, marginalised and dismissed. The black netballers are there. They are playing. Give them the same opportunities you are giving the white players.

We must question and challenge the make up of SA’s national youth and senior squads/teams. We must ask why are teams white-dominated, especially in sports like netball where the majority membership is black. And we mustn’t be afraid to challenge for answers why black girl netballers are not developing to international standard whilst white girl netballers are coming through the ranks.

Netball South Africa surely can’t tolerate provincial and pro league teams being white-dominated. Take a policy decision and instruct teams to have at least 50% black players playing on court, not just 1 or 2 black players.

This 75% white netball teams from provincial to national level is unacceptable. Not all provinces and regions are guilty of ignoring and dissing black player talent. Perhaps NSA should hold workshops to open the lens of white selectors and coaches to see black talent because clearly several of them are noticing just white talent.

I’m raising these challenges because they have become unbearable and because players and volunteer officials are afraid to question NSA. There’s much unhappiness about representation of these national youth and senior teams.

NSA officials have a responsibility to South Africa and the netball membership to protect and develop ALL players and select representative teams!


Ban Helen Zille’s White Privilege Project In The Western Cape! By Cheryl Roberts

15 Jun

It’s not tweets about her ‘positives from colonialism’ that should get Helen Zille suspended from the DA’s executive committees or whatever leadership positions she occupies. It’s her supreme support for the maintenance of white economic power, white business control and white privilege in the Western Cape that should have Helen Zille banned for life from the DA.

You can see from her tweets how Helen Zille thinks, her acknowledgement of the good and respect for colonialism, how she believes, despite apologising for her tweets, that ‘if it weren’t for colonial rule, Africa wouldn’t have advanced’.

Indeed, Helen Zille is correct about colonialism. That’s if she is thanking the colonial project, a violent and horrendous interaction for black people, but enabling and supportive for whites to get rich, take land away from indigenous and authentic owners and set up capitalist empires thru extraction of Africa’s natural resources and much more.

What is frightening and vastly evident is how Helen Zille, thru her control of the DA in the Western Cape and government portfolio as Premier and mayor (Cape Town mayor before premier) ensures continualisation and support for the colonial project. This essentially being about white economic and business power!

Look at economic development in the Western Cape in post-apartheid South Africa. It’s the white people who are controlling the economic and business power. In Cape Town, who is owning developments on the lucrative land that is the Atlantic Seaboard, in the Cape Town CBD and gentrification projects? It’s all white people!

This white-dominated ownership is allowed and supported by the DA in the Western Cape, with Helen Zille as premier of the Western Cape. You can see where Helen Zille’s ‘tweets’ are coming from, how they are being played out and what impact they have on economic and land control in today’s Western Cape.

How does Zille explain this white economic power being maintained and supported in the post-apartheid era? How does Zille account for invisibility of black business and non-black land and property ownership on the Atlantic Seaboard and CBD? Why are property and rental prices so exhorbitant in Cape Town in areas close to the CBD and Atlantic Seaboard and the winelands outside Cape Town? It’s because of the colonial and apartheid heritage and inheritance! White people still have the money violently attained from oppressing black people and making blacks work for profits accumulated for whites!

But the DA under Helen Zille in the Western Cape is not doing much to change this white economic control. The DA ain’t sharing and assisting black people to get into prime land and property ownership.

So it’s not so much about her insensitive and colonial-supporting tweets that Helen Zille should be forced to apologise and be suspended from the DA. It’s because of how she uses the power of office of the Premier in the Western Cape to support and advance white economic control that Zille must be removed from office.

Through her policies and actions, Zille has shown she’s not existing for the people of the Western Cape, irrespective of class and race, but for the economically privileged from the colonial and apartheid projects, and that means white people.

I challenge Helen Zille to account for consolidation of white economic power in the Western Cape and to account for her strangulation of black economic advancement.

‘Colonial supporter’ tweeting Zille  must not counter by saying tenders for business are ‘open to everyone’ and the ‘best tender wins’. Does this mean ‘the best’ are white businesses? Yes, black and emerging businesses gets some work here and there from the DA-controlled city of Cape Town and Western Cape Town. But these are the small monies for small projects. It’s the Atlantic Seaboard, CBD and gentrified areas where you see the white economic stranglehold viciously and at times, inhumanely at work and consolidation.

8cheryl roberts  in the rain forest in ghana

Cheryl Roberts (writer of the blog)

Don’t suspend or discipline Helen Zille for her favourable colonial tweets. Take action against Helen Zille for her purposeful support for consolidation of white economic power in the Western Cape.

Why Is There No Money For South Africa’sWomen In Sport? By Cheryl Roberts

1 Jun


There’s no denying that gender inequalities exist in South African sport. There is general agreement that sport in South Africa mirrors our society’s patriarchal entrenchment, male-domination and male hegemony. Women in sport suffer because of men’s control of sport.

The imbalances, inequalities and discrimination have been spoken about, called out and protested against by various voices and writings about South African sport narratives. But why do women in sport and sportswomen continue to be victims of gender discrimination? Why are sportswomen made to struggle when gender discrimination doesn’t exist in South Africa’s constitution; a constitution existing to protect and look after South Africa’s people?IMG_0935

Professional leagues, allowing for sportswomen to play sport full-time and as career opportunities don’t exist in sport, yet they exist plentiful for men in sport. Women in sport and sportswomen are crying out for full-time, professional leagues which will allow and help women to concentrate on sport like their international counterparts and be accorded the same privilege as their men counterparts.

It’s always the same answer when professional leagues for sportswomen, are called for. ‘There is no money and there is no sponsor willing to buy into a professional league’, is the similar reply from men sports administrators. But why is there no money when women are consumers, buying from and supporting businesses and corporates?

There is a fundamental and conscious neglect of sportswomen advancement and development of women in sport in South African sport. If sports federations can develop sports boys and sportsmen, then why do they not also focus on the sportswomen? disgustingly, many sports federations look much better after sports boys and junior boys in sport than sportswomen!

Are the answers not blatant and obvious? Men in control of sport look after men’s interests in sport and give less attention to women in sport. Yes, there is development of girls in sport in sports federations but the girls are not sufficiently and adequately assisted and supported to international level.

In most sports in South Africa, sportsgirls and sportswomen simply don’t get enough domestic and international competition. There’s always not enough money to assist the sportswomen. When there is money allocated from government or LOTTO (SA sport’s major funders), then some sports have the audacity to focus on the boys and men whilst neglecting the girls and women.

South African sport gets away with this neglect of developing and advancing women in sport because there is no organised resistance and protest against gender discrimination. There is no power of sportswomen being shown, by the women in sport for the sportswomen! So the men controlling sport can deliver sport  thru their male lens knowing they can continue on this pathway without being brought down. Seemingly, sportswomen accept the handouts given to them here and there, now and then. But this is not so. Sportswomen are angry; they are also afraid to speak out in case they are victimised within their sports federation.

Sportswomen have had enough of this male control and domination of sport. Cricket has launched a global tournament, rugby is bidding to host a world cup and SASCOC found R100 million for a Commonwealth Games Bid process. So there is money and money can be found for sport. Why can’t money be found to advance women in sport?

It’s not that money doesn’t exist! It’s because preservation of male hegemony in sport in South Africa is pivotal to keeping men in control of sport, with women and sportswomen getting some attention here and there, but never getting the financial power they need.

If the men officials in sport really had the desire to disrupt male control and male privilege in South African sport, they would mount a fierce campaign against gender discrimination and inequality in South African sport. It’s because men’s interests and power are preserved and maintained, that men sports officials have little desire to disrupt and challenge a system of support that favours them incredibly.