‘Taking A Knee’: South Africa’s Women In Sport Speak By Cheryl Roberts

7 Jul

DAEF6C09-BEF0-4F2C-8C4C-71914CDA8C8C      Activism in sport is not something new. Athletes being activists goes back many many decades. ‘Take a knee’ activism has been popularised by American football quarterback Colin Kaepernick and been given support and endorsement by several world class athletes. Recently, ‘taking a knee’ has been moved to the forefront of sport as the world’s peoples rally around and in support of the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

As a country of structural inequalities throughout all of society, South African sport is not ‘independent’ of inequalities, racism, discrimination, sexism, misogyny, abuse. Much of South African sport officialdom is conservative; would prefer to have athletes muted and have no opinion and make no comment about politics and society. But athletes, people in sport are not zombies and refuse to be muted. They live in a society of structural inequalities, racism, violence and discrimination. They don’t accept everything as the way ‘things should be’ or ‘supposed to be’.

I interviewed several of South Africa’s women in sport, wanting to know if they would ‘take a knee’. They have varying opinions. But they all agree they will not accept gender-based violence nor discrimination against sportswomen and women in sport. And for this they will ‘take a knee’.
This is the interview with ‘South African SportsWoman’ Publisher Cheryl Roberts and ten South African women in sport…..
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Q: As a woman in sport, would you ‘take a knee’?
Netball Coach Dumisani Chauke: I would take a knee because I have not always been on the right side of the fence. I would take a knee for my brothers and sisters who are on the other side of the fence and do not get given a chance because they are on the other side of the fence. Be it in sport, in business or at work…systematic exclusion is a reality for most of us.
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Q: As a woman in sport, would you ‘take a knee’?
Golfer Siviwe Duma: I will start to kneel down for taking sport and women seriously because, as you know, we are undermined physically, financially and mentally. As sportswomen we are told men are better than women and men get all the support and money. But we do exactly the same thing in sport, sometimes even better. It’s time we the sportswomen are treated equally. Now is the time.
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Q: As a woman in sport, would you ‘take a knee’?
Netballer Jo Prins: I would take a knee in solidarity with all people who have suffered at the hands of GBV and racism. I support the goal of true equal treatment for POC and women by every segment of society and in sport.
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Q: As a woman in sport, would you ‘take a knee’?
Hockey Coach Tsoanelo Pholo: I definitely would
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Q: As a woman in sport, would you ‘take a knee’?
Touch Rugby Official Nadeema Levy: Yes, I would take a knee. In solidarity with oppressed, especially black females who have always been struggling to access opportunity and who face structural racism.
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Q: As a woman in sport, would you ‘take a knee’?
Woman In Sport Official Ntambi Ravele: Yes, I would take a knee because as a woman I am double oppressed and experience many injustices and abuse. Taking a knee will be a sign of showing that it’s enough !✊🏾Oppressors should liberate themselves and realize that we are not going to accept oppression and injustices anymore. We will challenge them; as we are doing it now. So my knee will be a sign for oppression as a woman and being black.
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Q: As a woman in sport, would you ‘take a knee’?
Footballer Lebogang Ramelepe: Eish.  I really don’t know how I feel about this whole take a knee thing. We adopt what other countries are doing forgetting about our main challenge in our country and that is gender based violence, the killing of women and children. I support activism against gender based violence as a priority.
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Q: As a woman in sport, would you ‘take a knee’?
Volleyball Match Official Tania Lewis: I don’t really like campaigns based on race constructs. I agree that this movement is necessary in the context of its origin (US police brutality with clear bias towards black people). Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand during their national anthem in protest of the treatment of racial minorities has taken on a life of it own. But it is also the very America patriotism that is used against non-Americans, threatening the sovereignty of other nations and advocate their supremacy over others. I think race campaigns are limited in its objectives whilst there are many social ills and create the ‘them and us’. Perpetuating the very thing it seeks to eradicate..
We are faced with gender inequalities, GBV, extinction of species, nationalism, wars on the innocent and destroying the very life blood of our planet. So should I take a knee it would be for the reason ‘that all living things matter’…
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Q: As a woman in sport, would you ‘take a knee’?
Road Runner Blanche Moila: ….#WeAreAllln…. l would “Take the Knee ”   …in support of the plight of women and children in South Africa ….atrocious acts of violence against women and children  unresolved ..  the harassment of our young girls when training/running must stop…all the whistle and disparaging comments at our girls while they are running must stop.  We are tired of the daily attacks #alllivesmatter.#blacklivesmattertoo….#needSafeEnvironments…#enhancethetruepotentialofSportswomen…#WOMANDLAINSPORTS 🙋‍♀️🏃‍♀️🏃‍♀️#BeSafe #socialDistance adherence is imperative 😘’
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Q: As a woman in sport, would you ‘take a knee’?

Girls Rugby Coach Nosipho Poswa: ‘Yes, I will to protest gender-based violence’.

South Africa’s women in sport have spoken. They will not be silent about racism, gender discrimination, gender-based violence in society. They will not accept women in sport being dominated by men, racism in sport dominating black and oppressed women and gender inequalities in sport.

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