Archive | October, 2018

Recalling the Challenge Mounted By Oppressed Sportspeople Against Apartheid In Sport By Cheryl Roberts

24 Oct


It was 50 years ago, in 1958 that the South African Sports Association (SASA), a pioneering, fierce, out-spoken, anti-apartheid sports structure was initiated and founded to oppose discrimination in South African sport.

As the apartheid project was designed and implemented throughout the 1950’s and spread its tentacles to include legislation and policies that would protect white sports people and discriminate against black (all people not white in SA) people in sport, oppressed people retaliated with rage and resistance that would counter the apartheid policies.

Organised sport structures existed in the 1950’s, with efficient administration and officialdom. It was the oppressed sports officials in sports such as football, weightlifting, women’s hockey, cricket, table tennis, cricket, tennis that gathered and steered into action the momentum that would propel apartheid South Africa onto the world’s sports stages and into international sports forums. From the late 1950’s, because of apartheid, oppression and unjust laws, South African sport became an international issue contesting ground and challenge.

The horrendous apartheid regime had left sport untouched and alone in terms of it’s horrific and disastrous apartheid legislation. But when the anti-apartheid, largely black membership internationally-affiliated South African Table Tennis Board wanted to play in an international table tennis event, the apartheid regime stepped up and declined the oppressed national team their passports to travel.

In 1956 the first state intervention appeared regarding sports legislation within the apartheid framework. Within the oppressed sports network, officialdom placed their foresight and vision on meeting tables and decided to try and gain international recognition for all sports federations that represented mostly black and oppressed people. It was in 1956 that the South African Table Tennis Board got authentic international membership ahead of its white South African counterpart. This membership allowed the SATTB acceptance into international events whilst the white table tennis structure was denied this membership.

Also in 1956-157, the Co-ordinated Committee For International Relations in Sport was formed to gather support for black, oppressed, anti-apartheid, non-racial sports structures to gain international recognition. This was initiated by anti-apartheid sport federations and sport officials.

The first indications of apartheid South Africa being internationally isolated, in the 1950’s, were beginning to take root when both the South African Sports Association (SASA) supported by the African National Congress (ANC) Youth League called upon the West Indies to cancel their men’s cricket tour of South Africa although this tour was to play against an oppressed men’s cricket team. This decision was taken so the apartheid regime would not get positive media publicity and positive attention for allowing such a sports event in the interest of oppressed sport. The West Indies men’s cricket team, led by the legendary cricketer Frank Worrell, listened to the calls from the oppressed not to tour apartheid SA and cancelled their planned tour of a country where the minority white population oppressed the black majority population.

The Co-ordinated Committee For International Relations In Sport grew into a fierce voice for oppressed people in people and eventually led to the coming together of all oppressed sports structures/federations for the establishment of a national co-ordinating sports structure and voice that would organize and develop sport in oppressed communities and schools and would be the challenge against apartheid in sport.

This national representative sports structure became know as the South African Sports Association and had as its leaders mostly men sports officials such as MN Pather, Dennis Brutus, Dan Twala, Mr Ranginsamy. There were many women and men anti-apartheid sports volunteers and officials in many sports (I’m just mentioning a few national leaders here). The women officials operated in sport within a patriarchal system where men were seen as ‘the leaders’, ‘the best and clever administrators’ and were accorded official positions because of prevailing patriarchal  people’s mindsets. Women sports officials existed and played pivotal and supporting roles in catering and typing of meeting procedure.

SASA became a powerful, fierce anti-apartheid voice. The apartheid regime retaliated with its apartheid security apparatus against SASA as it became known that SASA existed to advance sport in oppressed communities and oppressed people, that SASA was intent on blackballing apartheid, white sport and exposing SA’s apartheid policies in society and sport. For their opposition to apartheid’s oppression and unjust laws and apartheid’s support for whites-only sport, SASA was viciously attacked by the apartheid regime with bannings, security harassment, raids on offices, arrests of SASA’s oppressed officials.

In 1959 SASA held its inaugural conference. The SATTB was going to play in the 1959 world table tennis championship after having historically participated in the 1957 event and at the 11th hour, the apartheid regime’s Minister of Interior, opted to withdraw visas of the oppressed table tennis team.

SASA knew the apartheid project of controlling oppressed sports people was steaming ahead. SASA fought back by calling on global sports structures such as the International Olympic Committtee (IOC) and Federation of International Football (FIFA) to expel white and apartheid SA from international sports membership. SASA rallied support from sympathetic and listening countries but white SA remained in world sport because of largely European and North American domination of world sport.

Into the early 60’s, with SASA’s leadership being attacked and constrained by apartheid’s security mechanisms, liberation organisation, the ANC publicly declared its support for anti-apartheid sport and condemned white sport for supporting apartheid in SA.  ANC President Chief Albert Luthuli who was an anti-apartheid football administrator also called for the expulsion of racist, apartheid, white South African sport from international sport.  And in 1962, SASA took a decision to call for SA’s expulsion from the IOC and set a letter to the IOC requesting such expulsion from the IOC as a demand from South Africa’s oppressed sportspeople. In 1963, SASA evolved into the South African Non-Racial Olympic Committee (SANROC).

We recall the formation, existence and voice of SASA because it was this opposition to anti-apartheid sport that fought the apartheid regime, rallied for discrimination to be removed from South African sport and for white privilege to be called out. We must never forget the anti-apartheid struggles and pivotal contribution of anti-apartheid sport in fighting for liberation from apartheid. And white people who never opposed apartheid, who benefited from apartheid sport must know that we still know and will never forget.

Women’s Rugby Must Be Fiercely Supported By SA Rugby By Cheryl Roberts

4 Oct



Rugby in South Africa and the world over is male-domanted and controlled. Amidst the male-centeredness of rugby and the hegemonic power it ensures for men in sport, girls and women are now claiming the sport as their fav and passion. And with this growing enthusiasm, arrives all the surfacing of incredible raw talent at girl level rugby and women in rugby. Now that they into the game, women rugby players want to play more and more rugby, especially competitive rugby and international matches.

There’s no debate about this: SA Rugby concentrates on development of boys and men in rugby, with little support given to the growth of women’s rugby.

That women’s rugby is fast growing around the world, especially in Africa, is noted by SA Rugby. Yet, SA Rugby still gives a small handout budget to women’s rugby. Not much can be done with this small financial resource!

Club rugby is there and a national provincial competition is the premier and only domestic tournament for senior women’s rugby. This tournament is shockingly played over only one round, with just five matches being played, over about 2-3 months. The top 2 teams from the round robin event get to contest the finals of the SA IPT, with the winner being crowned South African champions. How is women’s rugby expected to develop with just one national compeition, just one round of five mtches for each team and then its all over? Nothing more for the senior women rugby players. Fortunately, this year the women’s Springbok team is going on tour and will play some internaional matches, after not having played much for about 3 years.



SA Rugby, controlled by male officialdom gives the same old, same old argument that women’s rugby can’t get sponsors and SA Rugby self finances the women’s game. But why is there always no money for women in rugby but there’s always sponsors for boys and men’s rugby? Why must development of women in the game be neglected because there’s supposedly no sponsored money?

SA Rugby official, Pat Kuhn is very keen to have women’s rugby developed much more and given a much bigger budget. “I’m very much aware of the fast growth of girls in rugby and women’s rugby. Its an ongoing challenge and battle to get more money and much bigger budgets within SA Rugby,’ says Mr Kuhn who was the only SA Rugby official present at the women’s interpovincial final, played in East London on Saturday. ‘I agree that most focus is on men’s rugby with women’s rugby not being able to get much done to show further development and growth. We are seeing investments on our returns after investing in girls rugby and getting the youth training centres set up in all provinces. And out of this ambitious programme is the overfowing girls rugby talent that must be nurtured and carefully looked after,’ said Mr Kuhn.

In my opinion, SA Rugby has got to stop seeing women’s rugby as a burdensome side entity and must involve growth of girls and women’s rugby in all their national planning programmes, strategic planning and going forward deliberations. And budgets for women’s rugby must be prioritised!

Look at the playing of this year’s women’s A and B Section inter-provincial finals that were played in East London. Why didn’t SA Rugby play the women’s matches as curtain-raisers to the men’s Springboks match in PE?

About 3 years ago after the last women’s rugby world cup, SA Rugby took the decision to impose a self-moratorium on international matches for women. This was done to focus on establishing girls youth training centres throughout SA, to grow the game at youth girls level and surface youth talent that could filter into the women’s rugby teams. Now the girl rugby talent has emerged and its overflowing.



Women’s rugby in SA needs and must have much more domestic competition and international play. A double round of inter-provincial competition must be held in 2019. How about a top eight national event, too? Competition must start in March and go on until about October. Introduce two more national events for women’s rugby. Girls also need international experience and with this internaional tours like an SA schools girls rugby tour must be undertaken.

SA Rugby can say – how often they want to – about how they are genuine about advancing women’s rugby. But for as long as we don’t see more domestic competition and international matches for women’s 15’s and sevens, then SA Rugby will be called out for neglecting women’s rugby. Come 2019 and there’s no way we want to see only a one round interprovincial competion for women’s rugby, being played. A double round, on a home and away format must be introduced! And more national competitions. And instruct provinces to do much more for girls and women in rugby, not to neglect the gender in rugby.

Which Women’s Football Teams Should Play In SAFA’s Proposed National Women’s League? By Cheryl Roberts

4 Oct

durban ladies 

SAFA knows it must develop and advance women’s football. SAFA also knows it must establish a national league for women’s football. SAFA has announced, over a year ago, such intentions to kick off this inaugural national women’s league, sometime in 2019.

According to SAFA, the organisation has given consideration to format of such a national structure and women’s football competition.


This is my proposal about team composition and structuring of the inaugural edtion of the NWL………

  1. It should be a 16 team league
  2. Teams should be wild carded or given preferential selection into the NWL based on their existence, league championship wins and national playoff results in women’s football in SA
  3. In my opinion, these are the teams that should be wildcarded: Mamelodi Sundowns, Bloemfontein Celtic and Cape Town Roses. This is because over the past 5 years, it’s these teams that have consistently won the provincial leagues in their provinces and whom have performed in the top three at the national play offs
  4. Included in these wildcarded selections should be TUT, the consistent champions of tertiary sport over the past 5 years and Durban Ladies, the serial champions of provincial league in KZN who also have a consistent top 5 finish at the national play offs
  5. Note that I’m not recommending teams like Mamelodi Sundowns or Bloemfontein Celtic because they are PSL connected teams but because of their championship feats and results. They are champion teams; they stand as champions outside of their PSL connection
  6. Another team to be playing in the NWL should be a SAFA high performance team because the girl footballers based at high performance need to be playing competitive football, not just training. They are South Africa’s future senior international footballers and should be getting priority national competition
  7. Thus far we have 6 teams, according to my format. Who should make up the other 10 places?
  8. That should be accorded to provincial league winers of 2018. This will ensure that all nine provinces are represented in this national women’s league
  9. Which should be the 16th team? As the Gauteng league is said to be the most competitive league in SA, this should be accorded to a top three Gauteng league team of 2018
  10. This will give the league structure 16 teams to kick off the inaugural national women’s football league. Most importantly, this national league will have strength across the board. These are SA’s top and quality women’s football teams; they have been in existence for many years.



At the completion of this provincial year’s leagues, there’s going to be a scenario in some provinces where the league is going to be won by a team that hasn’t consistently won the provincial league and done nothing much at the national playoffs, but will get to play in the inaugural national league because they are 2018 league champions. Then there’s the scenario of the tertiary champions, won this year by University of Johannesburg. But it’s TUT who are the serial tertiary women’s football champions in both USSA competitions and Varsity Cup. Then there’s the scenario of a team like Cape Town Roses, one of your top national playoff teams at the national play offs since 2013, not winning the Western Cape provincial league this year because the club is concentrating on skills development of girl footballers,instead of winning the provincial league and being in the inaugural edition of the NWL, despite having won the Western Cape provincial league 7 out of 8 times.



I’m giving these examples of champion teams missing out whilst those who took one chance this year of being included, to show how SAFA needs to interrogate what is best to ensure strength and quality and healthy competition in the first edition of the proposed NWL. Also, why does SAFA want to insist on having this men’s PSl connection when the women’s football teams exist and have been there all these years? Now you want some women’s football teams to hurriedly link up with some PSL club so they can get entry into the NWL!

The teams I have mentioned who should be wildcarded into the NWL, together with the 2018 provincial league champions, should provide a highly competitive, tough and challenging first of-its-kind national women’s football league in SA. Teams that have shown their playing mettle over the years will be there, including the provincial champions and SA’s future internationals in the team that will represent SAFA’s high performance. What more could an inaugural national women’s football league ask for?

SAFA’s Proposed National Women’s Football League Is Already Disappointing……By Cheryl Roberts

1 Oct



There’s been excitement amongst women football players in South Africa since SAFA’s announcement to commence a national league for women’s football. Such league is long overdue and of course is keenly awaited. Women’s football teams want new competitions and higher levels of lay to develop their football skills and show their football prowess. Most importantly, women footballers also want to play in a professional league and earn a salary from football – just like men footballers.

SAFA recently completed a nationwide roadshow, headed by SAFA’s women’s football head, Ria Ledwaba to discuss with women’s football clubs, the proposed structure of the national league. Seemingly, it was about having conversation and discussion to reach agreement about the national league’s structure. This being the first national league of its kind to be established in SA, much anticipation awaits the league and subsequently awaited the national roadshow discussions in all 9 provinces.

But then again, why did SAFA bother to undertake this national roadshow, that promised so much but left women’s football clubs more disappointed about the proposed league.

If the league proposals are anything to go by, SAFA has already decided on its format. That this will definitely have a men’s PSL connection by giving automatic entry into the league to two clubs who are PSL connected; that being Sundowns and Bloemfontein Celtic.



It’s this PSL connection that is bothering! Why is SAFA intent on kicking of the women’s football national league with a men’s football connection when over 90% of PSL and NFD teams have never bothered about advancing women’s football by having women’s football teams. SAFA’s argument for such is that the PSL connection will be easier to attract sponsors because branding will already be in place. SAFA CEO has also stated that should it be a 16 team league, then four other places would be allocated to PSL teams. But these teams don’t exist, whereupon women’s football teams funded, supported and developed by volunteer coaches and managers have been existing for years, been playing in the provincial leagues, playing in the national play-offs and performing.

Already this women’s football national league is seemingly getting started on a wrong footing. Leave out the PSL connection. Men’s football has thrived and got the sponsorship in SA whilst women’s football has been neglected, at times marginalised and at most times given just a bad deal. SAFA officialdom seems to think that by connecting the women’s league and the PSL teams, it would be easier for the women’s teams to get publicity for the league to be branded and get sponsorship. Since when has men’s football prioritised women’s football over men’s football clubs and teams? Men’s football teams concentrate on men’s football. Ask Sundowns women’s football team if they get any salaries like the Sundowns men’s team? No they don’t!

Going back to the proposed national league structure with the already specified inclusion of Bloemfontein Celtic and Sundowns……Get this! These two teams are champion teams and should gain entry just for being championship winning teams. They can stand alone and on their own when it comes to qualification for a national league.

For this national women’s football league to get underway and be successful, women’s football must be prioritised. In all sports we see how men in the sport get the sponsorships and get favoured whilst the women are always begging for more and lagging behind, hoping they will be thought of. This same is likely to happen with the women’s football national league teams. When resources are tight in the football club, then it’s going to be the men’s team that will be looked after with the women team having to do with the little resources.



To get back to the national roadshow……women’s football teams have seen thru SAFA and say that SAFA already has its proposed structure chosen. All they want done now is for it to be endorsed so SAFA can say they consulted and engaged discussion on the national league. Meantime, most women’s football teams are unhappy with the automatic entry given to two PSL connected teams, to start off with. Then they are not in agreement with a possible PSL connection of 4 other teams as this is making some teams already getting possible connection with PSL teams like Wits and Amazulu. What about team identity, building the women’s football teams all the years, asks some involved with women’s football teams?


2durban ladies

SAFA’s proposed national women’s football is supported by women’s football teams and all who want women’s football in SA to grow. But this league should be independent from men’s football clubs, for women’s football to be prioritized without having linkages and depending on the resources available in men’s football clubs. A women’s football national league must be funded, sponsored and support to support women’s football to be independent and generate growth of the game for girls and women in football.