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!


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