Why Can’t Paralympic Champion Zanele Situ Get a Corporate Sponsor? By Cheryl Roberts

14 Jun
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Zanele Situ: Paralympic champion and medallist

South Africa has a sportswoman Zanele Situ that became Paralympic and World champion, won four Paralympic medals, participated in five Paralympic Games, won seven world championship medals. But this sportswoman has never had a personal corporate sponsor. She wants a sponsor, would love to have a sponsor, has approached corporates but still she can’t get a corporate willing to sponsor her.

Zanele Situ is post-apartheid South Africa’s top achieving sportswoman. The para sportswoman started competing internationally in 1998 in her first world championship and became world champion after winning a javelin event. She went on to become Paralympic champion at the 2000 Sydney Olympics in a javelin event where she also won the silver medal in a discus event. That’s not all! Zanele Situ successfully defended her Paralympic gold medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

She has won an incredible two gold medals at the world championships, together with five world championship bronze medals. Even during the years when she didn’t medal at an Olympic Games, she kept trying to perform at her best. And then she came back with a bronze medal podium finish at the Rio Olympics. Zanele Situ is almost 50 years old. And she still has an ambition of participating in the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

‘I would love to have my own car to get me around but I can’t afford to buy a car,’ says Ms Situ. ‘Here where I am based at Stellenbosch, I personally approached some car dealers to sponsor me a car but I got no positive replies.’

Ms Situ receives a monthly grant from SASCOC as part of Operation Excellence, a national funding sports programme administered by SASCOC that assists South Africa’s elite athletes preparing for international competition, especially the Olympics and Paralympics. The grant is nominal; just about covers Ms Situ’s living expenses.

Apart from her sports ambitions while she is a competitive athlete, Ms Situ also has another desire. And that is to have her own house, a place she can call home when she officially retires, one day. At this moment, she lives in a student abode in Stellenbosch while she is a member of Stellenbosch University’s Para Sport Club. But one day she will retire and she has no house of her own.

She hasn’t ‘made money’ from her participation in sport, despite being post-apartheid South Africa’s best Paralympic and World championship sportswoman medallist. And with all these achivements, Ms Situ has no house of her own. When she travels out of Stellenbsch at Christmas time, she goes to her sister’s house in Kokstad in KZN. Ms Situ has a pre-teen daughter who also participates in sport. Her daughter is assisted in living expenses with a monthly child grant from the SA government.

Why have corporates ignored the talent and remarkable sports achievements of Zanele Situ? Is it because she is black and differently abled? Is it because #blacksportswomenlives don’t matter? This sportswoman has participated in sport at all levels and achieved at all levels. What more must she do to attract a corporate sponsor and get her heart’s desires of a car and her own house? South Africa should surely be embarassed by not having Paralympic and World champion Zanele Situ corporate sponsored.

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