Archive | September, 2017

Down With SA Rugby’s Gender Discrimination And Disregard For Women’s Rugby By Cheryl Roberts

22 Sep

Rugby in South Africa is a very rich sport. It is a bastion for male hegemony and male control of sport. Rugby is heavily corporate-backed and a moneyed sport. And rugby in SA is a sport that gives crumbs to women’s rugby and advances boys and men in rugby while girl rugby enthusiasts and women rugby players are treated with little respect and recognition.

Last weekend, the finals of SA Rugby’s prestige domestic competition for senior women was held in East London, featuring teams from four rugby playing regions and two finals in the A and B section. It was shocking to see not one senior SA Rugby exco member or Board official at this event, featuring women rugby finals. This is not the first time that a women’s rugby event has been disregarded or ignored by SA Rugby officials, It happens most, if not all the time.

Over the past decade, I have been to several women’s rugby events throughout South Africa and I haven’t seen SA Rugby officials at these events. Yes, there are employees like the managers from head and provincial offices, but nowhere are the senior officials when women’s rugby is played.

Why does SA Rugby disregard women’s rugby events? They sure don’t do this for men’s rugby! No ways! Officials are present at provincial, national and international matches of men’s rugby where they have catering and free bar services. It’s not only the national rugby officials who are absent from women’s rugby events. It’s the provincial rugby officials, too. You just don’t see them at provincial women’s rugby events. But the staff and managers are out there on the field of play when women’s rugby is going down.

The non-presence of SA Rugby officials at a women’s rugby final isn’t their only indication of gender disrespect. SA Rugby didn’t even finance the 2017 women’s final! The host of the final, Border Rugby, one of the poorer rugby unions in SA, had to finance the event. It was a no frills, low-cost event featuring, as I stated earlier, four women’s rugby teams.

But that’s not all! SA Rugby has a budget for women’s rugby. But its a very low-budget; nothing like the money allocated for boys and men’s rugby. The SA senior women’s  interprovincial plays only one round of fixtures and then the top two teams after that one round, contest the final in an A section and B section competition. How must players improve and develop and challenge their rugby prowess against other teams with just one round of play? The interprovincial kicks off in late July and ends in mid-September. What must the women rugby players do for the rest of the year?

Some of SA Rugby’s provinces like Western Province and Border are sincerely building girls and women’s rugby. Much of the other provinces couldn’t be bothered too much about this gender’s development in rugby; giving the girls and women in rugby little attention and resources.

About two years ago, SA Rugby took a decision to place their own moratorium on international women’s play involving South Africa, with the decision to concentrate on grassroots and girls in rugby. Many talented women rugby players just like that had their international ambitions trampled. The Springbok women weren’t faring well at international level and needed to build skills at youth level to groom the future senior players. But how do you want the players to improve with so little domestic and international competition? SA Rugby concentrates much on boys in rugby than the women in rugby. Yes, there are much more boys and men playing rugby but girls and women’s interest in rugby in growing around the world and in South Africa.



It’s about the budget allocated for women’s rugby in South Africa. Much more money needs to be invested in girls and women’s rugby. SA Rugby says ‘they don’t have money’. What utter bullshit! Ofcourse they have money. They just choose to spend it on other activities and the men in rugby than investing in the women. Senior officials, Board members and exo members of SA Rugby are looked after nicely with financial remunerations. But what about the small budget given to women’s rugby in SA Rugby?

There’s no doubt that the male officialdom of SA Rugby have got to change and shift away from their male hegemonic thinking and control. The disrespect given to women’s rugby is shameful and SA Rugby shouldn’t be allowed to go on advancing boys and men in rugby while neglecting girls and women in rugby.

Why Wasn’t Applause For Fabulous Black Sportswomen Achievements Thunderous? By Cheryl Roberts

14 Sep

It all happened in about one week. That’s when Black sportswomen slayed fabulously on the international sports stages around the world. And, amongst the slayers were South Africa’s black sportswomen, too.

Black women achieving in sport didn’t just happen recently. Despite their struggles, adversities and chains associated with being black, they’ve been slaying for some time and for some decades. But its been the one black sportswoman here and another later, somewhere there.

Amongst the amazing black sportswomen feats in one incredible week of sports triumph, there was Sloan Stephens’ magnificent US Open tennis championship victory, after being ranked somewhere in the 900’s through being out of competitive play because of injury. There was also Kenyan athlete Joyciline Jepkosgei who broke the world 10k record at an IAAF Gold Label Road Race in Prague.

South Africa’s black sportswomen, too were on the achieving page and stage. There was the awesome boxing achievements of South Africa’s black sportswomen. World champion Noni Tenge successfully defended her WBF title and Unathi Myekeni successfully claimed a world title. World class netballer Bongi Msomi, captain of the SA netball team led the national team to a famous historical win over England.

Get this! These women are black. They have not had easy pathways to international sports glory. They have emerged from grassroots sport to international triumphs.

So we know the black sportswomen performed and achieved fabulously. But why wasn’t the applause for these incredible achievements, especially of the South African black sportswomen, so loud that it would have been heard in both southern and northern hemispheres?

Yes, there were congratulations and acknowledgements of Noni Tenge, Unathi Myekeni and Bongi Msomi’s triumphs. But it was white sportsman and professional tennis player Kevin Anderson who seemingly got much more attention and publicity than the three black sportswomen all together.

What is it with South Africa that we just can’t celebrate with thunderous and deafening applause our black sportswomen? But then again, because of scant and now-and-then media publicity of black women in sport, much of SA don’t know about our black women world boxing champions nor about our Paralympic champion, Zanele Situ. And it’s really the larger netball community that knows about world class players Bongi Msomi and Pumza Maweni.

These black sportswomen, despite their amazing sports achievements like world, Olympic, Paralympic titles and world class status, just don’t attract corporate attention or association. But sportsmen who haven’t achieved as enormously and fabulously as the black sportsmen get corporate business and sponsorship contracts. How do you call this?

What the black women boxers Noni Tenge and Unathi Myekeni achieved in one night was phenomenal for country, women and blackness. As people got to know about their world titles, especially through social media, their sports prowess got some acknowledgement. But it wasn’t loud enough. It wasn’t as deafening as it should have been. Two world boxing titles by women were achieved by South Africans, in a boxing championship in South Africa, in one night. Yet, these world champion black women boxers were not celebrated as their global sports achievements deserved. And the sponsors and corporates still haven’t contacted them.

It’s a fact that media, publicity and sponsorship in sport in South Africa heavily favours the sportsmen and not the women in sport. Commercial media has, over the past decade given a little more space to sportswomen and men in sport. Sports fans and sports consumers often say they didn’t know that a ‘black woman boxing champion existed’, or ‘women played cricket and rugby’, or when national and international fixtures featuring women were taking place. Hence, sportswomen and their achievements/defeats/triumphs are lesser known


Noni Tenge: World women’s boxing champion



Pumza Maweni: South African international netballer

and not as loudly celebrated as should be.

Celebration of sports achievements is very gendered with sportsmen getting loud and thunderous applause whilst sportswomen, especially black achieving sportswomen, get some acknowledgement in the moment of the sports triumph like Olympic and world champion Caster Semenya, and then seemingly forgotten about. Black sportswomen rarely get corporate sponsors or business/sports contracts, sometimes they get some commercial media, and in between some award recognition. This is how a patriarchal, sexist, male-dominated society impacts on sports applause and celebration. This is how male hegemony, male control supervises and takes care of male domination. Black sportswomen, despite their impressive and incredible sports feats, are dissed and largely unacknowledged.

How Disgusting! SAFA’s #SasolLeague Women’s Football Teams haven’t Received Their 2017 Grants By Cheryl Roberts

6 Sep


Women’s football in South Africa is struggling for recognition and support, especially the formation of a national professional league for women footballers. As if that’s not enough, the little support the women’s game gets from a corporate sponsor, hasn’t this year found it’s way to the clubs/teams that keep women’s football going.

Get this! Teams in regions playing Sasol League competitions haven’t received their 2017 grants allocated to them from the Sasol sponsorship. This, despite the Sasol League already having entered it’s second round of competition.

I wa shocked to hear last weekend, when I was on the football field how teams in the Western Cape hadn’t received their grants and their kit. I then stated an opinion about this on social media and was subsequently informed how the situation is the same in KZN and Eastern Cape. Other teams from around South Africa informd me confidentially how they, too hadn’t gotten their money.

The question is: Who is responsible for the grants not being disbursed to the Sasol League teams? Has the sponsor Sasol paid the sponsorship to SAFA national? Has SAFA national received the sponsorship but not yet distributed the funds/grants?

We’ve just come through the month of August, known as women’s month in South Africa where women are the focus and thought about. In sport, too women in sport are mentioned as being taken care of and promised ‘bigger and better’ in SA sport.

But hold on! Why is women’s football being treated like this?

Women’s football teams throughout the country, playing in the Sasol Leagues are mostly administered by and kept afloat by a few volunteer officials and coaches. These volunteers use their personal time and money, in most scenarios, to keep girls, young women and women in the game. Now, just about 5 months after playing league matches in a structured competition organised by SAFA national and administered by SAFA’s regional structures, it has become public that the Sasol League women’s football teams are running on empty and at personal cost to the volunteer officials and coaches.

This is not fair. It’s an injustice to women’s football! There is a national corporate sponsorship associated with women’s football competition in SA. Where is the sponsorship money and kit?

This year is especially big for women’s football. SA is preparing girls and teenagers for world cup qualifying tournaments. It’s the clubs at regional level that must develop these players and surface the talent. How can the volunteers do this alone with no grants/funding coming their way?

Where is the sponsorship money? I ask again: Has SAFA national received the sponsorship from Sasol? As its already 5 months into Sasol League competition, surely Sasol can’t be holding back with the sponsorship? Surely Sasol doesn’t want their brand tarnished by them not paying the Sasol League grants? Why is SAFA not disbursing the grants; why is SAFA doing this to the women’s football teams?

When team representatives attend Sasol League meetings in their regions/provinces and enquire about their grants, they are told to keep quiet and not ask questions because women’s football can’t get sponsors and only Sasol is keen to sponsor women’s football. Yes, that’s true about there being no sponsors, except Sasol, for women’s football, at this juncture. But enquiring about your grant doesn’t mean you are ungrateful. You just want to know how much longer must you go on using personal money to keep women’s football going and growing when there’s a corporate sponsor associated with the competition that you are making ahppen!

I’m writing this because I hear and feel the frustration of those volunteers especially who help develop women’s football in SA. I’m writing and shouting out because this is injustice being done to women’s football in SA. I’m writing this because clubs are scared to speak out, terrified their talented players will be victimised by non-selection for national squads. I’m writing this and calling out SAFA national or Sasol (whomever is to blame), because there’s no organised voice for women’s football in SA; anyone speaking out against gender injustices in SAFA fear they could be disciplined.

No one wants to fight with SAFA. We all want women’s football to be supported and developed. So, where are the grants that should have been paid to Sasol League teams for the 2017 season? Who is hoding the money?