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

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: