Archive | October, 2019

South Africa’s National Women’s Rugby Teams Must Be Sorted Out By Cheryl Roberts

29 Oct

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It was with much disappointment that supporters, players and all involved with women’s rugby in South Africa watched the women Springboks lose three successive home Tests to Spain and Scotland.
As the Tests kicked into play, disappointment was etched as it became known very quickly that SA wasn’t fielding its strongest and quality national women’s rugby 15s team.
So why didn’t SA field its strongest and best playing team, after knowing months ago the home Tests against European teams were inked and scheduled?
Coaches and selectors of the women Springboks had to rely on much young and inexperienced women players as the injury list headlined by the more experienced players, grew.
Spain beat SA in Port Elizabeth and Scotland got two Test wins in Cape Town. Some of SA’s experienced provincial and international players came to the stadium and watched the Tests in the stands, but didn’t turn up on the field to play for the national 15s team. You can’t blame the players for this! Not that they didn’t turn up beacuse they didn’t want to, but because another national women’s rugby set-up was not allowing them to be released from national camp. These were the contracted 7s players.
Its the ‘ownership’ of women rugby players and who gets first choice to call up and select the players that is pivotal to the honest and brutal assessment and disappointment of the defeats and unhappiness about player selection and team make-up.
This is what goes down. SA Rugby supports the playing of both 15s and 7’s women’s rugby and both teams compete internationally. The 15’s interprovincial championship and provincial league championships are structured. Senior women’s 7’s rugby doesn’t have a structure but just piecemeal, now and then domestic 7’s tournaments. What women’s 7’s rugby does have is a healthy budhet to have nationally contracted system whereby players are nationally contracted, receive a monthly salary, are full-time in training and, most importantly, can concentrate soleley on their rugby knowing they are playing rugby and getting paid.
But no national nor provincial contract system exists for women’s rugby 15s. Seven’s coaches and selectors come into the 15’s structures and raid the teams for players who are then selected into the national 7s set up. Because players are never sure where they stand with women’s rugby in SA, they go along with whatever selction comes their way. Actually they are not given a choice.
Sometimes, some 7s players are made available for the national 15s and provincial team. Sometimes, they are not made available. When this happens it directly impacts on the women Springboks who are then weakened.
This is the question: Who has first call on SA’s women rugby players? SA Rugby would never allow the men Springboks to be weakened because a national 7s team wanted a player/s. Those players would have to be made available for the 15s team.
Women’s rugby 7s is funded and has a good budget to adequately cover training costs, national contract salaries and international participation. Women’s rugby 15s is known to get some support for advancement here and there, with recently introduced-again international games, but they don’t get national contracts.
For the three home Tests in September and October, you had the scenario of some players getting late call ups to the women Springboks team as injuries hit and some players weren’t showing up on the field. But the players were young and inexperienced. Why couldn’t SA have fielded their quality players featuring in the 7s setup? The reason why the 7s players were held back was because they were in training to go play in the Africa World Series 7s championship; a tournament they had to win to qualify for the 2020 Olympics and World Series. SA won the African world series 7s qualifiers. But they are not going to the Tokyo Olympics because SASCOC says they haven’t met their qualifying criteria.
So where does that leave SA’s women’s rugby 15s team that has qualified for the 2021 world cup in New Zealand? After three successive home Test defeats, it says SA’s women Springboks have much preparation to do over the coming 18 months. The players exist. But how is a 15s team going to take shape and start winning to increase its confidence when several of its quality players are being held within 7s rugby?
Something has got to give! SA Rugby must sort out this 15s and 7s ‘ownership’ of players. Playing Tests without our quality and best team is not going to help strengthen the national women’s rugby team much. All its going to do is have the coaches saying ‘we are a young and inexperienced team and learning along the way’. But how then is SA women’s rugby going to become stronger in world rugby?

South Africa’s Women’s Cricket Team Must Be Cleaned Out Of White Privilege Cabals By Cheryl Roberts

29 Oct

South Africa’s Women’s Cricket Team Must Be Cleaned Out Of White Privilege Cabals By Cheryl RobertsIMG_8692

Women’s cricket in South Africa, administered by Cricket South Africa must be assessed at all levels of the game featuring girls and women in cricket. Just as men’s cricket in SA needs renewal and vibrant going-forward responses, so too does women’s cricket.
South Africa’s women’s cricket recently completed a tour of India where SA lost both the T20 and ODI tournaments. SA didn’t win both both the T20 and ODI events against Pakistan at home; SA won just one series. Against the emerging Bangladesh team, played at home in SA, again the national emerging team, loaded with international players, didn’t win all its matches. Since that world cup when SA reached the semi-finals, the questions being asked are how has the SA women’s cricket team advanced and what have they really achieved?
To start off with how about CSA look at the coaching and mangement staff of the national women’s cricket team. How does CSA account for all these men officials in charge of the women’s cricket team? Look at the national selection committee, the coaches, the management. Its all men officials. When is SA going to give opportunities to women coaches and managers at international levels? Surely it can’t all be about the men when there are several women coaches and managers at provincial women’s cricket.
Are the coaches of the women’s cricket team taking the team forward? What are they offering the team and players in terms of advancement and improvement? Coaching staff and management of the SA women’s cricket team have been in those positions for a long time. But they are not producing the results that should be achieved by a team that has quality world class players. Has CSA spoken to the players and heard their complaints, grievances and opinions?
This next issue that I raise could be harsh and player sensitive but it must be put on the table, spoken about and eliminated. White player privilege exists in SA’s national women’s cricket team and it must be eliminated. There are cabals existing in the national women’s cricket team and these cabals impact on who gets game time and plays international matches. This has been going on for many international matches where white players, because they are supposedly ‘experienced’, get all the game time but the black players get some here and there. Yes, I agree some white players have been dropped or excluded from some internationals and some black players get lots of game time. But its just a few of white players who get dropped and black players who et lots of game time, here and there.
How must black batters develop and gain confidence if they getting one or two chances, then dropped again and when they do get batting game time, they are played down the order when they are top order batters for their provinces? You get what I’m saying?
There’s a coach and a player from Northerns who ensure white privilege is protected in provincial and national women’s cricket teams when they are in charge as a coach and captain. How does a white coach account for playing a black bowler in just one over and then not playing her again, despite the bowler taking a wicket in her one and only over? This happened at the SuperLeague weekend of matches. And black players in Northerns cricket and outside have complained about this coach. When certain white players captain at provinial and international levels, they ensures their favoured white players are getting game time even when they not performing and not deserving to play.
These are serious grievances from black players. They are afraid to speak out for fear of being dropped, not selected or losing their contract or not getting a contract.
South Africa’s women’s cricket team is admittedly the best representative of SA’s people and demographics. But underlyng this team and within the team, is this persistent white privilege that gives most white players much more opportunities than that given to black players. Seemingly, the women’s team coaches and management allow these cabals to fester and grow because they want ‘to be liked and favoured’ by the white players, whose opinions they value more than those of the black players.
Get this! SA’s national women’s cricket team, just like its men’s team is just not performing internationally. And this has been going on for a long time. This women’s team must be assessed and cleaned out, starting with coaches and management, white privilege and cabalism.

Anti-Apartheid Sport Struggles Helped Post-Apartheid Rugby’s Black Players By Cheryl Roberts

28 Oct

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When oppressed communities were left under-resourced and deprived of recreational spaces and facilities dring the horrendous apartheid era, anti-apartheid sports administrators didn’t allow this lack of provision and scarcity of sports resources in the townships to impact negatively on black people’s participation in sport.
Black sports people were creative. They made football goals posts out of spare tyres, cemented and painted their own makeshift tennis playing areas, mapped out and created their own rugby field.
In Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, when the apartheid supporting municipality refusd to provide rugby fields for the townships’ rugby clubs and players, an anti-apartheid sports official stepped in and stepped up with the building of Zwide township’s first rugby field. Together with support and backing from the rugby playing communities in Port Elizabeth’s townships, Dan Dumile Qeqe gathered the forces, got a piece of unused land and set about erecting what would become Zwide township’s first rugby playing facility, owned by community and for the community.

To be known later as the Dan Qeqe stadium, this community built and supported sports facility went on to provide a home for oppressed black rugby players and clubs. It was also the headquarters of Kwazekhele Rugby Union, a rugby region that chose to be members of the anti-apartheid South African Rugby Union (SARU).
Rugby grew into the Eastern Cape’s most favoured sport amongst oppressed blacks. Although facilities and fields were scarce and sometimes non-existent, patches of grounds were fund and used to play rugby. Out of these community rugby spaces, surfaced much rugby talent who went on to become icons and legendary players in their communities.
Sports administrator Dan Dumile Qeqe was a cricket and rugby player. Born and living in Fort Beaufort, Dan Dumile Qeqe played cricket for the Fort Beaufort cricket club, in the 1940’s and 1950’s before moving to New Brighton in Port Elizabeth. Startled by the lack of rugby grounds in the townships, Dan Dumile Qeqe was adamant that apartheid’s municipalities would not strangle black rugby in the townships. That’s why Dan Qeqe got a whole community backing his idea nad initaitive and together they set about creating the community’s own rugby stadium.
Dan Dumile Qeqe was a visionary. He was solid in his sports commitment and chose to be involved in anti-apartheid sport. At the advent of sports unity in South Africa, in the early 90’s, the anti-aparthied South African Rugby Union unified rugby in SA with apartheid’s rugby structure and one rugby controlling federation was born.
There was much debate and opinions about this road to rugby unity and subsequent unified rugby structure. There was also much debate about whether the Springboks should be supported because white men still controlled Springbok selection.
I recall sitting in Dan Dumile Qeqe home in New Brighton, on enight in the early 90’s not far from where his petrol garage stood. I was working with a British producer on a BBC production about rugby in SA. And that night Dan, the documentary producer, Mrs Qeqe, herself very much involved in rugby as a supporter and club member, and myself had a conversation about sport in SA, at that juncture; about sport in a country on the cusp of a new dawn. And we got onto talking about Springbok support. Mrs Qeqe and myself relayed how we didn’t support the Springboks. Dan Qeqe told us honestly that he supported the Springboks, as SA’s national rugby team, as they represented a unified rugby body. The producer just listened to our interaction.
The creator of Zwide’s community-owned rugby stadium, Dan Dumile Qeqe never gave up on the community rugby facility, despite having a new era of rugby birthed. Zwide’s Dan Qeqe stadium battled the odds with maintenance costs and upkeep of the stadium but it was always there for township rugby players to use, even if the grass was long.
Born in the early 90’s was a baby born that would grown into a child loving rugby. The child lived in Zwide in challenging family conditions but he participated in rugby. And the rugby field where he played and improved his grassroots rugby skills was the Dan Qeqe stadium. The boy rugby player quickly became recognised as a talented player. Then came the recogntion from a private resourced school for the boy rugby player from Zwide who invited him to join the school.

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Today, that boy rugby player from Zwide, who first played stadium rugby at the Dan Qeqe community owned stadium, is captaining South Africa at a men’s rugby world cup. He is Siya Kolisi from Zwide in Port Elizabeth in the Easten Cape.
A community built and self-funded sports facility from the apartheid era, provided the boy rugby player Siya Kolisi with a rugby playing stadium so that he could know that opportunities were also there for township playing rugby boys.
Dan Qeqe has passed on, some years ago, in 2005. He was still activley involved with his rugby club, the legendary Spring Rose. I know Dan Qeqe would have been proud of Siya Kolisi. Being the humble sports official he was, Dan Dumile Qeqe wouldn’t have boasted about his efforts of providing a rugby stadium and helping black boys to know they can also play rugby. He would have smiled with admiration and allowed his heart to consume it all, knowing that his life’s happiness had been achieved.

Photographs: Found online. Credited to Vabaza Sports Consultancy

WECSA Supports Talent Identification In Western Cape Netball By Cheryl Roberts

24 Oct

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WECSA And Western Cape Netball Establish Partnership To Grow Netball Talent

The 2023 netball world cup will be hosted by South Africa and played in Cape Town and partnerships are already underway to assist and support the Western Cape’s emerging netball talent to be developed into national and inernational players.
A provincial partnership between a provincial sports academy and provincial netball structure is already making it all happen and positive results are already surfacing.
WECSA is the Western Cape Sports Academy. Western Cape Netball administers development and advancement of netball in the Western Cape. Together, WECSA and Western Cape Netball are on a mission, with objectives clearly defined, to discover netball talent in the Western cape, to assist the atlented netballers to further develop in the sport and to strengthen the Western Cape’s national league team, the Stings netball team.
‘It was three years ago that Western Cape Netball approached WECSA with a plan to further develop netball in the Western Cape. It was called: ‘The Western Cape Netball Performance Plan’. It was a good plan with clear achievable objectives and we got started on working together with this plan,’ explains WECSA manager, Mr Wayne Weitz.
‘The Western Cape Netball Performance Plan’ focussed on talent identification for netball talent in all districts comprising the Western cape netball structure. The six districts are: West Coast, Cape Town, Central Karoo, Cape Winelands, Overberg, Eden. No district was left out which meant no netballer would be undiscovered, nor ignored.
Former SA international netballer Danlee Matthews, who is now an elite level coach, drives the Western Cape’s netball performance plan with coach and coaching education.
And its through coach Danlee Matthews’ erstwhile and sincere efforts that much netball talent in all 6 netball playing districts of the Western Cape.
About 85 players were selected for high performance assessment, training, conditioning and support. Wecsa ensured that the suppprt project was loalised so players had the necessary assistanec and support in the areas where they palyed netball. Support for the high perfomance netball initiative comes in the form of nutrition, gym training, phsycological, and player assessments and coaching.
‘Coach Danlee Matthews provided the necessary and vital technical expertise to the coaches and helped them identify talent. She also provided the training programmes. But coach Danlee Matthews didn’t just leave it there. She monitored and assessed the entire project consistently, worked through its weaknesses and strengthened the programme. Today, several talented girl and young women netballers are being supported by this collaboration and their netball game is improving,’ says Wayne Weitz, who oversees the project and ensures the high perormance project collaborative project is making positive strides.
This high performance regional project ensures that under-resourced communities are very much in the programme and supported. ‘We don’t want any netball club or district to be left out or ignored. Netball talent exists all over the Western Cape and we must look out for this talent and ensure that its developed with the necessary resources and support.’
Already, the fruits of this collaborative relationship between WECSA and Western Cape Netball are surfacing with provincial age group talented netballers coming through the system and some netballers already using this project to impact on the Stings netball team.
‘The project is coach-driven and athlete-centered and we work with 6 districts loaded with netball enthusiasm, passion and talent’, says Danlee Matthews, Stings netball team assistant coach and driver of the programme. ‘The results are looking good judging from the Western Cape’s performances in national touranments this year. We can see the players are benefitting, especially from Wecsa’s scientific and athlete-needs support like psychological assessment and gym training and nutrition’.
And, with the 2023 netball world cup due to be held in Cape Town, both WECSA and Western Cape Netball want to see a netball player or players coming out of this high performance system to play for South Africa in the world cup.
The project is till ongoing and continues into 2020.

Photo Essay: Africa Cup Netball Championship Featured Africa’s World Class And Struggling Netball Teams By Cheryl Roberts

24 Oct

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Africa’s continental netball championship, the Africa Cup was recently played in South Africa. It was held in Cape Town, the city that will host the 2023 netball world cup, on behalf of host country, South Africa.

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This headline championship of African netball, was meant to showcase the best of African netball and give developing netball teams a better chance to play quality teams and improve. The Africa Cup did indeed attract some of the world’s top netball teams; 4 of the world’s top 8 netball countries managed to participate in the African championship.

IMG_1329I say ‘managed’ because of the strugges it took for national teams to arrive at the continental championship and their subsequent struggles to be at a continental event with little support given to a national team required to perform at their best.

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Fixtures were done and posted prior to the tournament’s commencement. Tanzania just didn’t make it to the tournament. Kenya arrived on the morning of play and went directly to the venue to prepare for a match. Malawi, Uganda, South Africa, Lesotho, Zambia were at the tournament ahead of the opening day’s play. Host country South Africa’s team was well suported and well-resourced. Zambia made the journey to Cape Town, travelling by road transport from Monday night until Thursday about midday. Zimbabwe left for SA on the day of the championship. They missed their first match and lost the points.

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Some world class players like Peace Proscovia of Uganda and South Africa’s Phumza Maweni and Karla Mostert, didn’t play in the championship. With their new coaches, SA won the tournament, having to play hard to beat Malawi and Uganda. They were unbeaten. Malawi finished second and Uganda finished in third place with Zimbabwe fourth.

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Several sponsors and marketing brands and others associated with netball in South Africa had their brands proudly displayed at the tournament venue. Broadcast media was good; all matches featuring the South African team were broadast live.

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Many volunteer officials, involved in netball temselves, gave their time to ensure they contributed to the successful organisation of the championship. Lots of girl netballers also gave their time and served as ball girls.

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It was startling to note that water wasn’t readily available to be given to the teams as they prepared to play a match. The Zambian and Kenyan teams asked for water, to be told ‘there wasn’t enough to go round’. I wasn’t at the tournament as a netball official but I butted in and asked some officials why no water was available. Got told something about ‘teams being told to provide their own water’. I couldn’t believe I was hearing that! Damnit! Water and sport go together. You play sport and you drink water. The sponsor’s drink was available but not water. Whether or not teams request water or not, you understand that you are hosting a continental sports championship and you provide this basic requirement, whether its bottled water or tap water filled in containers. Here was tired Kenya, just arriving in the morning, going directly to the venue to prepare for a match, only to find out there was no tournament water available. That water stuff was a negative on the organisation of the tournament.

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What the Africa Cup did throw up again was the bad support sportswomen and women’s sports receive from African sports federations and African countries. The fact the Africa Cup was coming up, was known by African netball federations. Why were some travel and accommodation arrangements so shabbily done? Why did Africa’s netballers and some netball teams have to go through stress and anxiety before the championship and at the championship about their accommodation and food?

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Africa’s netball teams were very impressive at the 2019 World Cup and the International Netball Federation knows that Africa is fast developing and growing a massive netball foundation and memebership base. Africa’s netballers are quality and world class. African netball federations and African netball countries must step up their game to be much more supportive of the players and better tournament administered.

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Africa’s netball players are giving their best and making Africa proud. It’s time for African sport officials to stop looking after themselves only and to prioritise support given to Africa’s sportswomen.

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TEXT and PHOTOGRAPHS by CHERYL ROBErTS are COPYRIGHTED

Photo Essay: Women Springboks Played Herstoric First Test Match In Cape Town By Cheryl Roberts

1 Oct

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It was the first women’s rugby Test match ever played in Cape Town. It was played on Monday, 29 October 2019 at City Park sports ground, an iconic rugby ground built by the communty’s sports administrators where anti-apartheid rugby was played during the horrendous apartheid era in South Africa. Kick off was at 5pm.
It was South Africa’s national women’s rugby team, the Springboks up against the national team from Scotland. Women’s rugby is growing in popularity and particiption numbers around the world and both national teams wanted to desperately win the match to increase their international profile and competitiveness. They also wanted to show their national controlling rugby federations that their women’s rugby team was improving and worthy of much more support.
I watched Scotland in the warm-ups. They looked fresh, ambitious and rearing to hit the field. I watched the women Springboks arriving at the stadium. I didn’t recognise much of the players, despite my watching and documenting some women’s interprovincial rugby matches, this season.
I spoke briefly to some of the players: asked their names, where they from in SA and their ages. Much of the Springbok team playing against Scotland were the young, emerging players taken out of the SA under 20 team. With several older and a little more experiened Springboks injured and out of competition for now, it was the younger players that were called up to Springbok duty.

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Scotland dominated play as the kick off ball was kicked into play and they regularly increased their scoreline with lots of tries. South Africa tried to retaliate and get more ball action into Scotland’s half. For those efforts, SA managed to score a try. But a Springbok team featuring several young, inexperienced players was always going to be found wanting, if not out of its depth. This wasn’t the strongest 2019 Springbok team. At best, it was South Africa’s second team representing South Africa. Scotland won the match with a scoreline somewhere in the 40’s with South Africa having just 5 points for her lone 5.
I watched and documented the match. And these are my photographs depicting the Test action of what was an herstorical sports moment in Cape Town, in what is 25 year old post-apartheid South Africa…………

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Photographs By Cheryl Roberts
Photographs are not to be used without permission/authorisation of Cheryl Roberts