Archive | July, 2017

South Africa’s Athletes/Players Forced By Officialdom To Be Quiet; Have No Voice! By Cheryl Roberts

27 Jul

Sport in South Africa is autocratic with democratic processes of interaction and discussion between officials and athletes non-existent. Sports federations are not only administered, but viciously controlled, by officialdom. Athletes and players are forced to be quiet, have no voice, are never asked their opinion, have no democratic discussions and are especially treated as non-thinking participants in sport.

Across the board, in all sports federations, officials are intolerant of athletes voices. It’s not that officialdom doesn’t like athletes/players to announce their opinion. It’s about sports officials being the oligarchical bosses, demanding athletes not to have a voice. Sports officials are especially scared to have athletes/players speaking out and challenging officialdom.

With most sports federations, before an athlete gives an interview they must ‘get permission’ and this permission is usually from the federation’s gatekeeper in the form of the communications/media person. These gatekeepers want to actually be present when the athlete is being interviewed. They will tell you it’s to guard the athlete from being misquoted or something like that. But it’s really to ensure the athlete doesn’t ‘speak out of line’, according to the sports federation.

Particularly in the era of social media, athletes/players are ‘monitored’ and anything remarked about or stated on social media that the federation official/s don’t approve of, is immediately and aggressively taken up with the athlete.

But what are officials in sport afraid of? Why are they representing sports officialdom as a dictatorship and dictated entity? Why are they so intent on controlling the minds, opinion and thinking of athletes/players and participants in organised sport?

It’s not only the officials that athletes are scared of; they also can’t question or challenge the appointed coach for fear of being dropped, not selected and sidelined.

It’s not just about silencing the voices of athletes. It’s also about ensuring the athletes have no critical consciousness. No political and social justice talk is allow; not even encouraged or supported! Can you believe this?

Athletes, players and their coaches are expected to train and participate in sport according to how officialdom sets the rules and regulations. No discussion or opinion is entertained or entered into. And the other gatekeepers are the employees in sports federations, most of whom administer sport from offices as if they own the sport, together with the officials.

Across all sports and in all sports, the athletes are trapped. They have voices that are silenced! Should they dare to speak out and give opinions, they are summoned for disciplinary action by insecure officials who rule the sport as if they own the sport.

Sometimes it gets too much and the athletes anger starts to boil. If it’s team action, then players stand together on a stronger foundation. If it’s an individual athlete speaking out, rarely do others support the athletes action, with athletes opting to view from the sidelines.

Competitive sport is fiercely competitive with selection being highly challenged and contested. With no athlete wanting to jeopardise their selection chances, they keep their voice quiet, speaking out only to close friends and contacts about their unhappiness, challenges and grievances.

The players and athletes get frustrated. They want to ask questions. They want answers. They have ideas about how sport can better deliver for athletes participation. Coaches dominate their thinking and behaviour. Officials silence them. There are no processes for athletes to speak out and challenge. They get told to take up challenges and grievances through their clubs and provincial structures. However, it’s in these very sports confines that athletes are silenced.

When representing provinces and country, athletes are briefed what to say and what not to say. Views about politics and social justice awareness are outlawed. The athletes/players are expected to concentrate on performance only, as if they exist outside the realm of society and it’s interconnectedness.

If athletes and players knew their power they would stand together, across all sports and boycott officialdom. Then what will officialdom have to administer and to whom would they dictate? But then again, athletes can’t perform without the officials who organise sport for them to participate in and compete.

A thorough assessment of the state of athlete/official relationship will reveal a state of being bullied. But really, the control of athletes voices is not only unhealthy for sport, it’s also unbearable! Athletes must be allowed to speak without fear of being victimised, disciplined, suspended or expelled. Dictators, autocratic and oligarchical officials in sport are harming sport.

8cheryl roberts  in the rain forest in ghana

Cheryl Roberts (writer of the blog)

 

Why Are South Africa’s Black Sports Girls Not Emerging As World Class? By Cheryl Roberts

18 Jul

With phenomenal sports success being attained by South Africa’s junior and senior athletes, SA’s sport enthusiasts are in the throes of sports euphoria and sports happiness. Achievements on the global sports stages are applauded with pride and respect. Now that’s all very nice and patriotic.
However, we must not forget celebration of sports feats can also cloud our lens, blur our vision. When we look at the sports feats we must also ask ‘who are we celebrating’? South Africans, yes. But an honest appraisal and reflection will show how it’s the junior boys (of all colours) and senior men who are achieving awesome titles and medals, with some sportswomen and sports girls also getting their continental and global accolades.
But where are the black sports girls? Why are they also not achieving world class sports feats. It’s not just the white seniors and white boys and girls. The black boys and black senior male athletes are participating internationally in sport and achieving amazing results.
But the black girls and black women are not achieving world junior titles and world class performances. Look at South Africa’s recent performance in the world under 18 athletics championship in Nairobi. SA topped the medals table because it got more gold medals than other countries. But Kenya finished tops with 15 medals compared to SA’s eleven. SA had 4 black boy world champions and 1 white girl champion. Kenya delivered girls and boys amongst their medallists. If SA’s boys can become youth world champions, win global medals and produce world class performances, then why are we not seeing such scintillating performances from black girls?
To start with, black girls are participating in sport. They are developing from grassroots sport to become provincial champions and top ranked national players. But it’s the platform from national to international stage which is not proving supportive for them. National teams like athletics, swimming, hockey, badminton, netball have just a few black girls with much more white girls and boys. If the black girls can’t get selected for international representation, how is SA going to have representative national senior teams?
Whilst we celebrate sports achievements, it’s very easy to forget about the missing black girls. In the moments of triumph and subsequent national applause and pride we forget to ask the critical questions that are impacting on black girls performance in international sport. It’s not that black girls can’t achieve internationally. SA’s world class and world champion sportswomen such as Caster Semenya (athletics), Zanele Situ (para athlete), Noni Tenge (boxing), Bongiwe Msomi and Phumla Maweni (both netball) exist. This demonstrates that black women can achieve global sports feats and honours.
South Africa’s sports administration is moving towards selection of teams and athletes that will produce world class feats and win continental and global titles. With this selection policy being favoured, we must ask what support is being given to black girls to attain high continental and world ranking and deliver world class performances.
After world class athletes like Semenya, Tenge, Situ, Msomi and Maweni retire, where is the next generation coming from because, at this juncture, they are not surfacing from the junior ranks.
Whilst being thrilled about SA’s amazing international sports feats, we must also be worried and concerned about the slow, almost lack of development of black sports girls from national to international representation. If black boys are achieving fabulously on the world sports terrain, then why are the black girls missing? African countries like Kenya have shown in athletics that both their girls and boy athletes can perform admirably in world sport.
With applause centered on sports feats and achievements, we must be mindful and ask the critical questions about the missing black sports girls. It’s easy to lose ourselves in pride and applause without questioning the gender imbalance. National sports federations must be questioned and asked about the development and advancement of talented sports girls and sports boys, especially talented black sports girls. We want to know where and how are they being protected and supported in the sports system, why are they falling through the system.
If sport produces largely boy talent and champions without surfacing girl talent, then sport must be accused of especially neglecting black sports girls. Then we must respond, call them to attention, force them to arrest this imbalance and ask why the neglect of black sports girls.
It’s apparent that SA’s black sports girls are missing at international level. Seemingly, the black sports girls are being neglected, being allowed to fall through the cracks without being caught and supported with assistance to further develop. We won’t rest until black sports girls are visible on international sports stages with achievements and feats like the sports boy. South African Sports Woman . Published by Cheryl Roberts. Published in May 2017. Published in Cape Town in South Africa - Copy

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Why Are South Africa’s Black Sports Girls Not Emerging As World Class? By Cheryl Roberts

18 Jul

South African Sports Woman . Published by Cheryl Roberts. Published in May 2017. Published in Cape Town in South Africa - Copy

Why Is Sports Injustice Done To South Africa’s Girl Footballers? By Cheryl Roberts

14 Jul

I’m aware that selections in sport vary according to people’s opinions, especially for all of us who think we know who should be selected. Most times, coaches and selectors get some selections right, according to sports fans. Most times, they also just don’t get it. SAFA recently held trials in some football regions; not all areas were covered. These trials were supposedly to get selections done for SA u17 girls and u20 women’s African world cup qualifiers.

I often challenge and ask critical questions about SAFA’s organisation and administration of girls and women’s football. I do this because of the interest in developing women’s football and for the larger picture; that being to get winning teams representing South Africa in women’s football. The talent in girls and women’s football is there in South Africa. But how this talent is managed and advanced by SAFA, is something else. After calling out SAFA and its management of women’s football, there are admittedly some improvements.

So SAFA decided to host trials around South Africa. The national programme of dates, venues and co-ordinators got drawn up by SAFA. All that is okay. SAFA has given enough notice to its football affiliates. But why so late with the trials when you knew you had Africa’s world cup qualifiers coming up in September this year? The July holidays should have been used to get national training underway for the national teams, playing some friendly internationals, not for national selection camps that don’t even involve all the regions because all the trials were not completed. How do you host national selection camps without having done trials throughout the country?

SAFA looking at girls talent throughout SAFA’s regions must be commended. Before, SAFA’s selections were done straight out of the high performance players which didn’t have all of the best talented girl footballers there. But what do 1-2 hour trials prove when the girl and young women footballers have been playing league since over 3 months ago throughout South Africa? Shouldn’t there be selectors and ‘talent scouts’ watching the girl and young women footballers playing league matches every week, thereafter advising national coaches and selectors? Shouldn’t national youth footballers be liasing with coaches whose players are showing their football talent and prowess?

Yes, we want talent across the country to be looked at, not only taken from one region like Gauteng; this  because girl footballers exist all over the country. We want the best for South African women’s football. We don’t want girls and women’s football to be dominated by a cabal of coaches, selctors and management who concentrate on Gauteng and a few clubs there.

The Cruel Injustice Done To Sisanda Vukapi Of Cape Town Roses And Faadieyah Simons Of Manenberg Ladies

 And how does SAFA’s national u20 women selectors and whoever else is involved, explain that the precocious talents of one 17 girl footballer, Sisanda Vukapi is totally ignored? This 17 year girl football from Cape Town Roses is one of the leading all-time goalscorers for Cape Town Roses and in the Western Cape Sasol League, this season. She has been in the Western Cape’s SA inter-provincial championship winning under 19 teams. She has scored goals at SA tournaments. Sisanda has played in several national play-offs, won the national play-off with Cape Town Roses and won several league titles for and with Cape Town Roses. Explain to us why this talent is being ignored for national selection. Tell us why she can’t even make a national u20 selection camp when she is rocking the Western Cape Sasol League, this season. What more must this talented girl footballer do?IMG_0729

Two girl footballers, 17 year old Sisanda Vukapi and 18 year old Faadieyah Simons from Manenberg have been dealt a cruel injustice with the latest SAFA under 20 women’s football call-ups to a national training camp. Sisanda, of Cape Town Roses is one of the leading goalscorers of the Western Cape Sasol League, this season. Faadieyah is a leading player for Manenberg Ladies. Both teenage girls played for the SA u19 champions, Western Cape. Sisanda and Faadieyah both scored the winning goals in the 2016 final. They went to the 1 hour trials in Cape Town, showed their talent. How could they be excluded from a national training camp when they have shown their talent at national and provincial youth level? How many more goals must Sisanda of Cape Town Roses score? What more must Faadieyah Simons prove? Sisanda has kept Cape Town Roses at the top of the league this year with her goal scoring prowess. Why are Sisanda and Faadieyah being ignored?. Which youth girl footballers from around South Africa are so much better than these girl footballers when they have both scored at SA championships? Yes, I know not all girl footballers can get selected! But Sisanda and Faadieyah have proved their worth, damnit!

But it’s not only about Sisanda and Faadieyah; it’s also about what other talent is going unoticed throughout South Afrca. That’s why I’m asking why national youth selectors and coaches don’t communicate with coaches who are producing the girl footballers and developing South Africa’s women’s football future.

Given how South Africa didn’t qualify for the last editions of u17 and u20 women’s football world cups, how do we believe in SAFA’s selection and training of the national teams? I’m asking these questions, challenging some decisions, all with positive intent and in the interest of getting the best deal for women’s football in South Africa.

I’ve spoken to many, many coaches around South Africa and all of them say that No One from SAFA’s women’s selection and coaches panels contacts them about how the players are developing and shaping up. NO One! Then they hear about trials and national selection and they must get players to attend.

I’m asking these questions because coaches and the players are scared and afraid to speak out publicly in case they become victims and get ignored for selection. I’m asking these questions because it’s become unbearable to see how some talent is ignored. I’m asking these questions because we want women’s football in South Africa to win across Africa and in the world. The talented girl footballers exist! SAFA must get their national training camps and selections to recognise this talent.