South Africa’s Struggling Sportswomen Also Need Help During #CoronaVirus Pandemic By Cheryl Roberts

26 Mar


Much has been written and said about our #coronavirus pandemic concerns and impact on human life, especially the working class. Amongst my concerns are the additional anxieties imposed on the struggling sportswomen, who are without any possible income during this time.
Let me elaborate: In South African sport, very few elite sportswomen are nationally contracted and get monthly salaries. Very few sportswomen are on SASCOC’s elite programme OPEX that financially assists elite sportswomen preparing for Olympic participation. In some sports like netball, football and rugby, the sportswomen receive a payment/stipend for being in national camp or playing an international match. This is done on the basis of a national camp being held or an intenational being played.
At provincial level, some sports like rugby and cricket give the sportswomen a nominal playing fee for representing provincially. Very few of SA’s elite sportswomen are sponsored and given monthly retainers. Honestly, South Africa’s sportswomen, except for a few elite sportswomen and privileged sportswomen struggle to be in sport. Now with the #coronavirus pandemic facing society and all sport being suspended until whatever, this ‘loss of money’, however nominal it is, impacts negatively on the already struggling sportswomen.

Look at this! South Africa’s already struggling black women pro golfers battled to find the oney to play the pro Sunshine Tour. Now that its wrapped, they would have played some pro-ams and done some private coaching. But with public facilities closed, sport suspended and our country responding to a national lockdown, there’s no income coming the way of our struggling women golfers. There’s much unemployment, joblessness, temp contract workers amongst South Africa’s provincial women rugby players. Some provincial rugby federations give the women players a monthly stipend to come to training and play provincial matches. Trust me when I say that the unemployed provincial players rely on this money, no matter how nominal it is.
SA’s national women’s football squad should have been in training for continental qualifiers. For this, they would have received payment for being in camp and playing. Now with all sport suspended, there’s no income for the women footballers who rely on this income.
Then there’s the provincial women cricketers who also had their season #coronavirus interrupted and suspended. Some provincial cricket federations give the players a stipend for provincial matches played. Two more rounds of matches had to be completed.
With sport activities all suspended, there’s no human interaction happening for the sportswomen. At least, when you at trining or playing a match, your struggling plight becomes known and you get some financial help from fellow team mates or the coaches. I know this happens in South frican sport. We help our struggling sportswomen.
What about state of mental health of our sportswomen with them worrying about their health and money to survive?
There’s a big difference between helping sports federations in distress from loss of income emanating from postponed and cancelled events and helping sportswomen who are really struggling to survive because they focus on elite participation in sport without a monthly salary.

SA’s Minister of Arts, Culture and Sport has announced a R150
million fund to assist artists and sport for incme loss during this time of the #coronavirus pandemic. Will some of these millions reach the struggling sportswomen, battling the odds?
We cannot and should not ignore SA’s struggling sportswomen, especially the black and working class sportswomen who don’t have the privilege of getting an income. We must look at sports of netball, football, pro golf and the women caddies, cricket and other sports at provincial and national levels. To ignore struggling sportswomen would be inhumane, unjust and uncaring.

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