Is South Africa’s Newest And First Minister of Sport The One Sportswomen Been Waiting For? By Cheryl Roberts

27 Feb

After never having a woman sports minister throughout any of South Africa’s historical junctures or post-apartheid era, South Africa finally has a woman Minister of Sport in Tokozile Xasa.

Is this the one, women in sport and sportswomen have been waiting for, to not only pioneer initiatives to challenge, disrupt and eliminate male control of sport in South Africa but to wipe out gender inequalities in the SA sport paradigm?

Will South Africa’s newest Minister of Sport have the consciousness and determination to disrupt male hegemonic control of the sports paradigm; this male power that so acutely keeps men in control of sport officialdom ensuring that women in sport get little attention, some handouts here and there, some position now and then?

Get this! Not because Minister of Sport Tokozile Xasa is a woman, does it mean she will consistently challenge male control and power in sport. And not because she is a woman can we believe and rely on her government power to ensure gender inequalities in sport will be removed.

Dear Minister of Sport Tokozile Xasa:

As a black woman you should know what it is to live in South Africa’s patriarchal, neo liberal society littered with gender inequalities and male power all over. You know about this male control of women’s lives in society. And yes, we have it in sport, too. Your male predecessors before you, in this government sports portfolio and their men director-generals were very weak in tackling gender inequalities in sport. They were not only weak; they just didn’t say or do much. After all, the gender inequalities didn’t exclude them; they benefitted men in sport. Despite the decades of oppressive and unequal sports paradigms in SA sport, women in sport and sportswomen are still here in sport; struggling to survive, to develop and advance and participate as elite sportswomen.

Minister of Sport Tokozile Xasa, I know you are entering office as a first time Minister but we been waiting for you and got lots to tell you about our expectations. After all, we have had enough of this male control of sport and women’s sport gets little of the funding, attention and sponsorship.

What you as the Minister of Sport must not do is to pander to this male control by allowing men officials to fool you with what they are supposedly doing to improve and advance women in sport. We are telling you that men officialdom has always given girls and women a raw and unequal deal in sport. Men officials control the budgets, they decide for girls and women what is ‘best’ for them in sport. And you do know that women in sport and sportswomen have had to exist within this male-dominated paradigm and battle to develop through the sports pyramid with the crumbs given to them by men officials.

Minister of Sport Tokozile Xasa inherits a sports portfolio that has to be cleaned out from the very Sport and Recreation South Africa department she will oversee to SASCOC, the national sports confederation, including the national sports federations.

With SA’s elite athletes winning on international sports stages and achieving continental sports feats, SA’s sports system seemingly looks all in order. If anything, sport in South Africa is not in a healthy state, especially at grassroots levels, in working class schools and communities and provincial administration.

I’ve been long time calling for a national sports budget solely for girls and women in sport. Can Minister of Sport Tokozile Xasa implement such a priority focus budget that will look after girls and women in sport?

Women’s sports need national and professional leagues. Will Minister Xasa be able to insist that national federations provide the same events for women as they do for men? And part-time elite athlete/ sportswomen participation must be abolished. If elite sportswomen can’t get the funding and sponsorship within national federations and businesses to be full-time and professional in the game, then how are sportswomen going to improve, become world class and compete with the world’s best?

As a black woman in unequal, white privilege South Africa, Minister of Sport Tokozile Xasa should know that to be black, rural and working class in post-apartheid society is to still struggle and battle the odds. Gender inequalities exist in South African sport but white and middle class women are not facing the same struggles and hardships as black and working class girls and women in sport.

Several national sports teams are still embarassingly white-dominated. This white privilige is supported in national sport who do little development projects here and there for black girls and in working class schools and communities. And this white domination/white priority must be stopped! Again, Minister of Sport Tokozile Xasa must be strong and call out this white sportswomen domination of national teams and athlete representation.

If Minister of Sport Tokozile Xasa enters her newest job with the clarity, consciousness and understanding that sport in South Africa is unequal, that gender imbalances are rampant and rife, that white sportswomen domination must be disrupted, that black and working class girls need to be prioritised, that male control of sport must be challenged and disrupted, she would have started where she should; with the intention of giving priority attention to all the wrongs that contribute negatively to sports development and growth in sport in SA.

We’ve been waiting and calling for winds of change to sweep through South African sport. Is Minister of Sport Tokozile Xasa the one sportswomen and women in sport have been waiting for to arrive and implement the gender balanced South African sports network?South African Sports Woman . Published by Cheryl Roberts. Published in May 2017. Published in Cape Town in South Africa - Copy

Leave a Reply

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

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

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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 )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: