Archive | June, 2018

Softball Confirmed As SRSA Priority Sport By Cheryl Roberts

27 Jun

Sport and recreation South Africa, the government department that receives the government budget to manage and support sport in South Africa, has confirmed in Minister of Sport Xaba’s budget speech, that softball will this year be the department’s priority sport.

Over the past years, SRSA has prioritised some sports for intense assessment, funding, emphasis and assistance. Through their priority sport programme, sports such as netball and volleyball have been assisted in setting up the much needed national leagues.

This year, softball will be the priority sport with the objective to set up a national league.

Softball is a popular sport played mostly by girls and young women and older women and boys and men. The sport, has over the past five years been struggling for recognition, funding and to attain sound governance. During the past years of turbulence in the sport, softball was suspended by SASCOC, missed international tournaments, forced their players to pay personal costs to represent South Africa. Then SASCOC finally decided that Softball South Africa was sorted out and could be ‘back in SASCOC’ as a full member.

Now SRSA will prioritise softball development and help initiate the inaugural national softball league.  This national league event will motivate players to play the game and perform to play in the national league. But the sport also needs much more international competition. Sending out a national youth and senior team now and then, every 3-4 years doesn’t help growth of softball.

Veteran softball administrator Thelma Achilles, says SRSA’s announcement to make softball a priority sport is ‘very good news and just what the sports needs to grow further’.

For a sport that has been struggling with internal disputes, lack of publicity and funding, the national league should place softball in a higher bracket of elite development. ‘Let’s hope we can get the national league off the ground, very soon,’ says Thelma Achilles. ‘Softball needs this national league and we need more funding and help at grassroots and club level to grow the game around South Africa’.

South Africa’s women’s softball team will play in the 2018 world cup in Japan. SA qualified, together with Botswana at the African qualifiers held in SA, earlier this year. Because of ‘no tournament funding’, players and management have to personally pay to play in the softball world cup.

At least, SRSA will work with Softball South Africa and help eliminate their internal issues and steer the sport forward. The national league will for sure boost the sport and motivate and inspire emerging and elite softball players.

 thelma achilles

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SAFA’s Proposed Women’s Football National League: How Will It Take-Off? By Cheryl Roberts

27 Jun

Several African countries are further ahead than South Africa in women’s football with their national women’s football league. To date, South Africa has only provincial leagues but no national women’s football league. After consistent and mounting calls for a national women’s football league, SAFA is under pressure to initiate and structure South Africa’s first national women’s football league. Media reports have SAFA indicating its intention to launch a national women’s football league, starting in 2019. A sponsor of this proposed league is still being sought, by SAFA. If men’s football attracts sponsors, then why can’t women’s football also get sponsored?

SAFA hasn’t said much about this national league except to announce their intention to launch such a national league for women’s football to be further developed. But this proposed national league didn’t even call for submissions or ideas from women’s football teams already involved in the provincial leagues. Through media reports, SAFA gives some indication about this proposed league. Something like, it will be a 12 team league with the two PSL connected teams of Sundowns and Bloemfontein Celtic being given automatic entry into the league. But why is this being done?

For a start, this envisaged national women’s league should be a separate entity from the men’s PSL teams – that has never concerned itself with setting up a national women’s league. (just as a reminder). This national league must be titled South Africa: Women’s Football National League (WFNL) and must be owned, curated, structured and managed by SAFA with no team connection to the men’s PSL. What happens should these PSL teams of Sundowns and Bloemfontein Celtic be sold and be moved to another province? What happens to the players and location of the team?

So what we know thus far is that the proposed league will feature all 2018 provincial league winners, including USSA women’s football national champions. There is no idea yet if this league will be played over a playing season with teams travelling around the country to play each other or whether this league will be a once off national tournament, played over a month. But a league indicates a league competition with all teams playing each other, on a home and away basis.

Why is SAFA giving direct qualification to two PSL teams such as Sundowns and Bloemfontein Celtic? On their own, these are both provincial champion teams and can get their own qualification into the league. If they going to automatic qualification just for being connected to PSL teams, then why don’t teams who have consistent top finishes at the national play-offs be given automatic entry into the league? It’s a positive to include tertiary sport national champions. But then again why not consider all nine provincial champions of the 2018 Sasol Leagues with wild cards going to other teams that have been around for about 8-10 years and have achieved top placings in Sasol Leagues and the national playoffs?

Another question: Why is there no consideration to groom and develop emerging footballers such as under 20 women players by giving them competitive play in this national league? SAFA has a high performance girls football centre in Gauteng. Girl footballers are selected from around the country to attend this football school. The girl footballers play no league matches, they just practice. Speaking to some of the girl footballers who’ve attended this high performance, you will hear about their frustrations about not playing league football in their time spent at the high performance centre.

A high performance under 20 teams need to be included in this national league, instead of giving automatic qualification to the two PSL connected women’s teams. This will give much motivation to the girl footballers training at this centre and will also prepare them competitively for under 17 and under 20 African world cup qualifiers.

Already with the proposal being mooted by SAFA, this national league will have some quality teams and some very weak teams, as indicated, over the years, by provincial performances at the national playoffs.

 We must be honest and acknowledge that at least three provinces should have at least two teams in this national league, that being Gauteng, KZN and Western Cape because of the football quality in these regions.

What about the idea of playing a national league as that played by netball’s national league? This will be played on a regional team representation with matches being KZN v Gauteng, Western Cape v Northern Cape, North West v Limpopo. This will ensure player depth and quality players are selected for the provincial team, instead of it being just a one team representing a province in the national league. Meantime, women’s football teams should be further strengthened in the provincial leagues, and the national playoffs will continue.

And then again how does SAFA expect teams to gather themselves and perform when SAFA doesn’t pay out the sponsored Sasol grant money to teams before kickoff of the provincial leagues? With the proposal of a national league out there, women’s football teams are struggling to survive because volunteer coaches and officials have to mostly carry costs to play league because SAFA delays payments of the sponsored grants.

Get this! Most women’s football teams, except for the PSL connected teams and tertiary sport teams and independently sponsored teams, are one or two person managed teams. This is usually done by the coach and an assistant volunteer. There exists a big gap in management of provincial women’s football teams to what is expected of those playing in a national league.

And the crucial question is: Will this proposed national league be a professional league with players playing full-time? Will players get paid salaries? Will schoolgirl footballers get paid to play in the pro league? Will players get bought from other teams/clubs? Will provincial teams be paid for players leaving their teams to play in the national pro league because all teams will need to be strengthened and require additional players from other teams?

The growth and development of women’s football in South Africa is demanding the establishment of an operational, sponsored/funded national league. Women’s football teams welcome the reports they are hearing but they remain sceptical about SAFA’s reported indication. Women footballers want to know more about this national league, they want to be excited about this initiative. Perhaps SAFA is waiting to confirm a sponsor before they announce all about the national league. Whatever is finally announced by SAFA must ensure that growth and development of elite women’s football will be fully supported with the creation of this inaugural national league. IMG_1982

Cape Town Roses Concentrating On Developing Girl Footballers By Cheryl Roberts

12 Jun

They’re not only one of South Africa’s top women’s football competitive teams, they are also South Africa’s leading team for developing girl football players into a championship winning team. They are Guguletu-based Cape Town Roses; a women’s football team founded by, held together by and coached by primary school teacher Mr Madikane.

Cape Town Roses have won the Western Cape women’s football league 7 out of 8 years. The year they lost it was in 2016 when they finished one point behind and second to winners UWC. They also won in 2014, the national playoffs women’s football competition, hosted by SAFA and reached the finals of that national event, several times, the latest being in 2017. And this was done with several schoolgirl footballers in the team.

When the Western Cape women’s football league finally kicks off this weekend, primarily in Cape Town and surrounding areas, Cape Town Roses will field one of its youngest teams ever fielded in the league. The youngest will be 11 year old Inga Sam Sam, whose 13 year old sister Lithemba has already scored significant goals for Cape Town Roses.

Out of this championship winning team of 2017, coach Madikane has many of last season’s team players but several players who made pivotal contributions to the league and knockout wins have taken transfers for various reasons such as Ode Fulutudilu’s pro contract in Finland, Sisanda Vukapi’s university club affiliation, transfers to other cities and clubs like Unathi Booi, Roxanne Barker, Lelona Dewati. Coach Madikane didn’t try to keep any player at the club and immediately issued their transfer when requested.

But with the void left in the club by the team’s championship winning players, coach Madikane wasn’t distressed. Neither did he panic. He had many pre teen girl footballers in his development wing waiting for an opportunity to be in the senior team. ‘I saw it as another opportunity for the girl footballers to develop in the team, to get long game time, to feel comfortable and happy in the team and for this young team to enjoy their women’s football,’ says coach Madikane, who didn’t respond by inviting players from other clubs to join his team, like that done by other coaches who don’t develop players but poach and lure players from teams doing development.

‘As defending champions, don’t you want to win the league this year?’ I ask coach Madikane. ‘We’ve won the league 7 times out of 8 seasons. I’m giving other teams and coaches a chance to win the league this year. But I’m not saying I’ve just given up……’ smiles coach Madikane as he responds.

Despite Cape Town Roses not having signed any senior players to replace those who have gone onto other teams, there’s still a confident mood prevailing amongst the girl footballers with about 20 of them registered this year to play women’s football, all being schoolgirls. The 17 year old Cesane twin girl footballers, after a two year stint at SAFA’s high performance school in Gauteng are back at the club, this season and will play influential roles as senior and experienced players although they are still girl footballers.

But then again Cape Town Roses has always been about schoolgirl footballers, with most of them coming out of coach Madikane’s primary school. And they have developed within the team and developed the team to become Western Cape champions and one of South Africa’s top three women’s football teams.

Sadly, this rich talent at Cape Town Roses has been overlooked for senior women’s national selection and representation over the years, despite Cape Town Roses showing their prowess and winning titles. This marginalisation of Cape Town Roses players who deserve national selection baffles coach Madikane. ‘I fail to understand why national selectors and coaches ignore players from Cape Town Roses. Over the years, the team and players have proven themselves as a winning team of talented, quality players but national selectors have ignored this talent’, says coach Madikane.

Look at the 2017 season when Cape Town Roses should have had 5 teenage girls in the SA under 20 women’s football team. But they had just three. And then one of the Western cape ‘s leading goal scorers in 2017, Sisanda Vukapi went on to be top goal scorer at the national playoffs, yet didn’t get national under 20 selection. Coach Madikane has had to watch other players getting selected whilst his quality championship winning players got ignored.  Coach Madikane is the Western cape’s most successful women’s football coaches in the past 8 years and one of SA’s top women’s football coaches. But he has been ignored and overlooked for a national coaching position. Not that he’s bothered or crying about not being a national coach. He smiles and says ‘I have proven my coaching credentials. Its other coaches who must prove themselves, including those who have been appointed national coaches in women’s football’

Although he gets disappointed when he sees that deserving players from Cape Town Roses don’t get under 20 and Banyana Banyana selection, coach Madikane says ‘Cape Town Roses have shown their quality. We have won 7 out of 8 leagues, several knock out cups in Cape Town and played in many national play off finals. The team turned raw talent into quality and did something worthwhile with the quality, talented players. What must else must we prove?’

Defending Western Cape league champions Cape Town Roses kick off their delayed 2018 season with a home match in Guguletu on Sunday against Santos. The girl footballers have been at training, diligently going through the training schedule prescribed by coach Madikane. They have also enjoyed pre-season training on the sandy ground at an under-resourced school in Guguletu. Now they are ready to play the competitive matches in the big league against the big people and see how they develop. Knowing their prowess over the years, no team will take Cape Town Roses lightly or assume them as a walkover team. Every team playing against the youngest team in the league will have to work hard for their goals and their points because the girl footballers know the winning tradition of the team and the players that came before them. The only standards known to Cape Town Roses is to score goals and win matches and championships.

Meanwhile, coach Madikane says he’s going to enjoy the season watching the girl footballers enjoying participation in the women’s football league. And he’s going to delight in their improvement, development and happiness on the field as girl footballers.IMG_1982

White Privilege Strangling Black Sportswomen In South African Sport? By Cheryl Roberts

11 Jun

It’s because we are women that we must ‘stand together, and support each other as women’ is the common viewpoint for some women in South African sport. This is because women as a gender are discriminated against in sport, because women suffer because of gender inequalities and women are forced to exist in a male-dominated sports paradigm.

Its reality that South African sport is heavily male-dominated and controlled, that women in sport have to struggle for recognition, funding and support, that women have to watch men’s sports getting lots of sponsorship whilst sportswomen struggle to get corporate attention.

But hidden within the framework we must ‘stand together, and support each other as women’, is the white privilege that prevails, ensuring that white girls and white women in sport are nicely taken care of because of their white privilege and of course, inherited apartheid privileges.

Yes, women in sport struggle to participate in sport, achieve in sport and stay in sport. But the struggles and battles encountered by white women in sport are not the same as those faced by black women. Most black girls in sport are working class, struggling to enjoy the luxury of participation in sport. Most white girls in sport are not majority working class.

Most sports in South Africa that women are involved in, are white-women dominated, except for a few such as women’s football and women’s rugby where the player base is black and working class. And most sports teams and athlete representation is also white women-dominated. Look at sports such as swimming, hockey, netball, including athletics. These sports are dominated by white girl and women representation with black players getting a few places to squeeze into a team here and there.

Whist we been busy concentrating on calling out South Africa’s men’s cricket and men’s rugby teams for being white dominated, the white women have been merrily controlling representation in women’s sports. And this is shockingly occurring where sports have black officials as presidents. Look at the 10 netball teams in the national netball league. Four of the top teams are white player dominated and all ten head coaches are white women. That’s not because black women can’t coach netball. It’s because the black women coaches in netball are being kept out, side-lined, marginalised and made to feel inferior to white women coaches.

The national senior swimming team throughout the post-apartheid years has been about white swimmers. The recently announced SA women’s hockey team for 2018 the world cup is largely white-dominated with a handful of black (all players not white) players.

White privilege is thriving in women’s sports in South Africa. Black women, meantime are battling to breathe to exist in a functioning sports paradigm intent on dismantling their growth in sport.

The amazing prowess of black woman athlete Caster Semenya can also cast a false impression that black girls and women are emerging as elite athletes. But look at the 2018 South African u20 girls team to participate in the world u20 championship. It has only 6 girls; five of them white and one girl athlete not white. South Africa’s 2018 Commonwealth Games, Team South Africa was represented by mostly white women.  She was the only black woman athlete to win at the Commonwealth Games; thankfully, black woman athlete Caster Semenya achieved the gold medals for herself, for country and for black women.

Yes, women are discriminated against in sport and suffer because of gender inequalities. But black women suffer and struggle much, much more. And white privilege still prevails! Yes, women in sport are friends, travel together for sport, associate with each other, support each other as teammates. But except for some white women, white women don’t speak out and call out white privilege in sport. They also don’t challenge when whites dominate selection and representation.

Black women are beginning to stir and hopefully, roar against white domination in women’s sports. They no longer are content with whites dominating selection and representation and are beginning to challenge white women privilege in women’s sports. In doing this, black women officialdom must not stay silent; they must also call out white privilege in women’s sports. We have to eliminate white privilege and ensure black women in sport are not strangled by white women privileges, inheritances and resources, in the sports network.

8cheryl roberts  in the rain forest in ghana

Cheryl Roberts (writer of the blog)

To Stop Gentrification, Stop White Ownership In Historically Oppresssed Communities in Cape Town By Cheryl Roberts

3 Jun

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The slowly moving in and take over by gentrification of historically oppressed communities in nearby and surrounding city centre Cape Town is working against the original residents of these communities. Who is gentrification existing for?

Look at this! Gentrification has engulfed Woodstock, the community of historically oppressed peole, where houses are  exhorbitant prices, eliminating working class people from housing deals. And there’s massive development of  high rise buildings, shops and businesses. And who are those doing these developments, buying the houses, old apartment buildings? It’s the generational wealth people, the foreign moneyed people, those getting apartheid inheritances and white privilege, of course. It’s white people.

Shockingly, it’s not the historically oppressed who are spearheading gentrification. It’s white people and European foreigners. Where are the black people, those who suffered apartheid oppression? Why are they they missing from gentrification?

It’s because they don’t have the money from apartheid inheritances nor access to funding and business assistance to help them spearhead development in their historical people’s communities! So young whites especially, with their apartheid inheritances and white privilege, and serial business developers sustained during apartheid, are now driving gentrification of areas in and nearby city centre Cape Town.

We’ve watched how Woodstock got taken over, how Salt River is being clawed into and how Bo Kaap is being ‘invaded’ by European  foreigners and apartheid’s white children. Now Bo Kaap’s historical resident’s, especially the young people who have grown up hearing and knowing about forced removals in their families, are challenging and calling out gentrification.

Given what gentrification brings to our people’s hoods, it’s imperative that developers and their developments be confronted with people’s anger and protests. Developers are mostly about money, making more money and eliminating those who can’t afford to rent their business spaces and buy their properties. Developers are not concerned about community legacy, traditional people’s hoods and impact of destruction on people’s lives. All they want is to develop and to make money!

One fearless, gigantic step to be taken is to stop white ownership of land, property, businesses in areas such as Woodstock, Salt River and Bo Kaap, including the city centre area. Whites already own all new house and property purchases and are business owners in this gentrification era. The historically oppressed are not the drivers nor owners of gentrification processes;  they are the victims, the evicted and the pushed out. And this is not being racist, nor apartheid in reverse or discriminatory. This is halting white wealth increase and growth whilst blacks are being forced to rely on this gentrification for accommodation and work.

In an area like the Atlantic Seaboar, incorporating Sea Point, Bantry Bay and Green Point, this prime land and property revitalisation is being done by wealthy whites and apartheid era businesses. Blacks can’t get into developments happening there because they don’t have the money for the business deals. The only entrance for blacks is as construction workers building the high rise buildings for the white inherited and owned businesses.

Knowing that the historically oppressed had no money from apartheid, a fund had to be created by national, provincial and city governments to assist black people to also become developers and property owners of the Atlantic Seaboard. Big this hasn’t been done and apartheid’s money is at play here, helping apartheid’s generational wealth to not only expand and grow, but to stay within white ownership.

It won’t stop, this increasing power of apartheid’s generational wealth. Here in Cape Town, especially with     the DA having control of government administration, whites will get rich and blacks are going to remain bring employees of whites.

Stop allowing and increasing white ownership in Woodstock, Salt River, Bo Kaap, Cape Town CBD and Atlantic Seaboard. Whites are already owning property, land and businesses in these historically people’s communities. That’s enough. We don’t want people pushed out of their communities because of money. We want white ownership, purchase of land and property in these people’s communities, to be stopped and for the people themselves to take ownership of future developments.