Black Sportswomen Must Not Be Marginalised In SA Sports Teams By Cheryl Roberts

22 Jul

South African Sports Woman . Published by Cheryl Roberts. Published in May 2017. Published in Cape Town in South Africa - Copy<strong>

We are living in 25 year old post-apartheid South Africa where opportunities for all South Africans are supposed to be real and exist. But this is not the reality in some sports, especially sports such as netball, hockey, swimming, fencing that are white-dominated from junior to senior represenation, from provincial to national teams.
Where are the black sportswomen in these sports, we have been asking for about 25 years. Why are they lacking and not being seen? Is it because they are not being given opportunities to show their talent, potential, prowess as white sportswomen?
Yes, some black sportswomen have come thru in these sports and that’s because their talent and international potential couldn’t be dismissed, even by those white coaches and selectors who embrace a ‘white is merit, black is development in sport’ gaze and mentality.
Its been a litany of struggles and challenges and call outs to those who officiate those sports that marginalise, ignore, sideline elite black sportswomen. Netball and hockey in SA are both guilty of turning out extremely white-domianted provincial and national teams.
And when black players have gotten the chance at being selected and given some opportunity, they have gone on to be world class sportswomen. Look at Phumza Maweni and Bongi Msomi in netball and Marcia Marescia and Quanita Bobbs in hockey! And its always about only 2-4 black women playing, 2-4 black women off.
Netball South Africa had it soooooo bad with white domination, that it was forced to introduce a policy some years ago of two black players always on the court of play at international level. Because it was just two black players, it never became more than two. It was surprising to see sometimes 3-4 black players on the court for SA in netball internationals over the past year.
SA women’s hockey is feeling the pressure, no doubt. Coaches are selecting more black players but their provincial and national teams are still white dominant and white players are given more game time to show their worth. In fencing, black women are SA fencing champions and ranked number one yet they not getting much international competition because there’s never funds to pay their particiption costs. But white women fencers always get out to international competitions.
There is some liberal thinking that we are one as women because our gender is discriminated against in society and in sport. Get this! But white women are not discriminated against as black women. White women have their white privilege that always comes thru for them, saves them even when they are mediocre and shouldn’t be selected ahead of elite black sportswomen.
Whilst we applaud sports achievements of South Africa’s sportswomen, we are also challenging for opportunities for black sportswomen, just like those given to white women in sport.
I started writing this by saying ‘we are living in 25 year old post-aparthied South Africa.’ And im saying that we don’t want white domination of national and provincial sports teams in sports such as netball and hockey. Officialdom of these sports must assess their white domination and ensure that black sportswomen are not kept out.
After all, who is talking up for the black sportswoman? Who is calling out black officials in sport that allow white – domination of provincial and national sports teams? And its not about ‘we are all sportswomen and the best sportswomen are chosen’. No, its not. Its about that colnial mentality persisting that ‘white is merit’ and we know that white is NOT merit.
Look at South Africa’s team at the netball world cup. It was a 75 percent white player team, an all white coaching team and all white umpires. What have you been doing in Neball SA in these 25 years to allow this white dominated situation to prevail and represent black population majority South Africa?
It is an inhumanity and injustice to ignore black sportswoman talent and potential. Eliminate the white, colonial mentality that believes ‘white is merit’. We demand South Africa’s black sportswomen be represented and given the opportunities to play in international teams. Black sportswomen have already proven themselves on the global sports stages. Why are you keeping back and keeping out black sportswomen?

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