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Why Are South Africa’s Black Sports Girls Not Emerging As World Class? By Cheryl Roberts

18 Jul

With phenomenal sports success being attained by South Africa’s junior and senior athletes, SA’s sport enthusiasts are in the throes of sports euphoria and sports happiness. Achievements on the global sports stages are applauded with pride and respect. Now that’s all very nice and patriotic.
However, we must not forget celebration of sports feats can also cloud our lens, blur our vision. When we look at the sports feats we must also ask ‘who are we celebrating’? South Africans, yes. But an honest appraisal and reflection will show how it’s the junior boys (of all colours) and senior men who are achieving awesome titles and medals, with some sportswomen and sports girls also getting their continental and global accolades.
But where are the black sports girls? Why are they also not achieving world class sports feats. It’s not just the white seniors and white boys and girls. The black boys and black senior male athletes are participating internationally in sport and achieving amazing results.
But the black girls and black women are not achieving world junior titles and world class performances. Look at South Africa’s recent performance in the world under 18 athletics championship in Nairobi. SA topped the medals table because it got more gold medals than other countries. But Kenya finished tops with 15 medals compared to SA’s eleven. SA had 4 black boy world champions and 1 white girl champion. Kenya delivered girls and boys amongst their medallists. If SA’s boys can become youth world champions, win global medals and produce world class performances, then why are we not seeing such scintillating performances from black girls?
To start with, black girls are participating in sport. They are developing from grassroots sport to become provincial champions and top ranked national players. But it’s the platform from national to international stage which is not proving supportive for them. National teams like athletics, swimming, hockey, badminton, netball have just a few black girls with much more white girls and boys. If the black girls can’t get selected for international representation, how is SA going to have representative national senior teams?
Whilst we celebrate sports achievements, it’s very easy to forget about the missing black girls. In the moments of triumph and subsequent national applause and pride we forget to ask the critical questions that are impacting on black girls performance in international sport. It’s not that black girls can’t achieve internationally. SA’s world class and world champion sportswomen such as Caster Semenya (athletics), Zanele Situ (para athlete), Noni Tenge (boxing), Bongiwe Msomi and Phumla Maweni (both netball) exist. This demonstrates that black women can achieve global sports feats and honours.
South Africa’s sports administration is moving towards selection of teams and athletes that will produce world class feats and win continental and global titles. With this selection policy being favoured, we must ask what support is being given to black girls to attain high continental and world ranking and deliver world class performances.
After world class athletes like Semenya, Tenge, Situ, Msomi and Maweni retire, where is the next generation coming from because, at this juncture, they are not surfacing from the junior ranks.
Whilst being thrilled about SA’s amazing international sports feats, we must also be worried and concerned about the slow, almost lack of development of black sports girls from national to international representation. If black boys are achieving fabulously on the world sports terrain, then why are the black girls missing? African countries like Kenya have shown in athletics that both their girls and boy athletes can perform admirably in world sport.
With applause centered on sports feats and achievements, we must be mindful and ask the critical questions about the missing black sports girls. It’s easy to lose ourselves in pride and applause without questioning the gender imbalance. National sports federations must be questioned and asked about the development and advancement of talented sports girls and sports boys, especially talented black sports girls. We want to know where and how are they being protected and supported in the sports system, why are they falling through the system.
If sport produces largely boy talent and champions without surfacing girl talent, then sport must be accused of especially neglecting black sports girls. Then we must respond, call them to attention, force them to arrest this imbalance and ask why the neglect of black sports girls.
It’s apparent that SA’s black sports girls are missing at international level. Seemingly, the black sports girls are being neglected, being allowed to fall through the cracks without being caught and supported with assistance to further develop. We won’t rest until black sports girls are visible on international sports stages with achievements and feats like the sports boy. South African Sports Woman . Published by Cheryl Roberts. Published in May 2017. Published in Cape Town in South Africa - Copy


Why Are South Africa’s Black Sports Girls Not Emerging As World Class? By Cheryl Roberts

18 Jul

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

Why Is Sports Injustice Done To South Africa’s Girl Footballers? By Cheryl Roberts

14 Jul

I’m aware that selections in sport vary according to people’s opinions, especially for all of us who think we know who should be selected. Most times, coaches and selectors get some selections right, according to sports fans. Most times, they also just don’t get it. SAFA recently held trials in some football regions; not all areas were covered. These trials were supposedly to get selections done for SA u17 girls and u20 women’s African world cup qualifiers.

I often challenge and ask critical questions about SAFA’s organisation and administration of girls and women’s football. I do this because of the interest in developing women’s football and for the larger picture; that being to get winning teams representing South Africa in women’s football. The talent in girls and women’s football is there in South Africa. But how this talent is managed and advanced by SAFA, is something else. After calling out SAFA and its management of women’s football, there are admittedly some improvements.

So SAFA decided to host trials around South Africa. The national programme of dates, venues and co-ordinators got drawn up by SAFA. All that is okay. SAFA has given enough notice to its football affiliates. But why so late with the trials when you knew you had Africa’s world cup qualifiers coming up in September this year? The July holidays should have been used to get national training underway for the national teams, playing some friendly internationals, not for national selection camps that don’t even involve all the regions because all the trials were not completed. How do you host national selection camps without having done trials throughout the country?

SAFA looking at girls talent throughout SAFA’s regions must be commended. Before, SAFA’s selections were done straight out of the high performance players which didn’t have all of the best talented girl footballers there. But what do 1-2 hour trials prove when the girl and young women footballers have been playing league since over 3 months ago throughout South Africa? Shouldn’t there be selectors and ‘talent scouts’ watching the girl and young women footballers playing league matches every week, thereafter advising national coaches and selectors? Shouldn’t national youth footballers be liasing with coaches whose players are showing their football talent and prowess?

Yes, we want talent across the country to be looked at, not only taken from one region like Gauteng; this  because girl footballers exist all over the country. We want the best for South African women’s football. We don’t want girls and women’s football to be dominated by a cabal of coaches, selctors and management who concentrate on Gauteng and a few clubs there.

The Cruel Injustice Done To Sisanda Vukapi Of Cape Town Roses And Faadieyah Simons Of Manenberg Ladies

 And how does SAFA’s national u20 women selectors and whoever else is involved, explain that the precocious talents of one 17 girl footballer, Sisanda Vukapi is totally ignored? This 17 year girl football from Cape Town Roses is one of the leading all-time goalscorers for Cape Town Roses and in the Western Cape Sasol League, this season. She has been in the Western Cape’s SA inter-provincial championship winning under 19 teams. She has scored goals at SA tournaments. Sisanda has played in several national play-offs, won the national play-off with Cape Town Roses and won several league titles for and with Cape Town Roses. Explain to us why this talent is being ignored for national selection. Tell us why she can’t even make a national u20 selection camp when she is rocking the Western Cape Sasol League, this season. What more must this talented girl footballer do?IMG_0729

Two girl footballers, 17 year old Sisanda Vukapi and 18 year old Faadieyah Simons from Manenberg have been dealt a cruel injustice with the latest SAFA under 20 women’s football call-ups to a national training camp. Sisanda, of Cape Town Roses is one of the leading goalscorers of the Western Cape Sasol League, this season. Faadieyah is a leading player for Manenberg Ladies. Both teenage girls played for the SA u19 champions, Western Cape. Sisanda and Faadieyah both scored the winning goals in the 2016 final. They went to the 1 hour trials in Cape Town, showed their talent. How could they be excluded from a national training camp when they have shown their talent at national and provincial youth level? How many more goals must Sisanda of Cape Town Roses score? What more must Faadieyah Simons prove? Sisanda has kept Cape Town Roses at the top of the league this year with her goal scoring prowess. Why are Sisanda and Faadieyah being ignored?. Which youth girl footballers from around South Africa are so much better than these girl footballers when they have both scored at SA championships? Yes, I know not all girl footballers can get selected! But Sisanda and Faadieyah have proved their worth, damnit!

But it’s not only about Sisanda and Faadieyah; it’s also about what other talent is going unoticed throughout South Afrca. That’s why I’m asking why national youth selectors and coaches don’t communicate with coaches who are producing the girl footballers and developing South Africa’s women’s football future.

Given how South Africa didn’t qualify for the last editions of u17 and u20 women’s football world cups, how do we believe in SAFA’s selection and training of the national teams? I’m asking these questions, challenging some decisions, all with positive intent and in the interest of getting the best deal for women’s football in South Africa.

I’ve spoken to many, many coaches around South Africa and all of them say that No One from SAFA’s women’s selection and coaches panels contacts them about how the players are developing and shaping up. NO One! Then they hear about trials and national selection and they must get players to attend.

I’m asking these questions because coaches and the players are scared and afraid to speak out publicly in case they become victims and get ignored for selection. I’m asking these questions because it’s become unbearable to see how some talent is ignored. I’m asking these questions because we want women’s football in South Africa to win across Africa and in the world. The talented girl footballers exist! SAFA must get their national training camps and selections to recognise this talent.


Phenomenal Wayde Van Niekerk Dazzles Without Chains By Cheryl Roberts

28 Jun

IMG_7285When he runs on the global athletics tracks, its as if Wayde van Niekerk wants to show the world how humans can compete in sport when they have no chains. He runs because he knows the happiness of participating in international sport, the pride of representing a democratic South Africa and knowing your talent’s worth, which Wayde believes is God-given.

Wayde van Niekerk hasn’t said much publicly which reveals his social justice consciousness. That he is socially aware and has a social justice consciousness, there’s no doubt. You can see this in the personal of the athlete that is this global superstar.

Wayde van Niekerk is very much aware of struggle in people’s lives, in society and in sport. He knows about his mother Odessa’s sprint prowess in 1980’s South Africa, being born oppressed and participating in sport for freedom. Wayde concentrates on his today’s and future. But his participation in and achievement on the world athletics stage is always a reminder about the past; the horrendous apartheid past that discriminated against oppressed athletes.

For the oppressed who participated in anti-apartheid sport, Wayde van Niekerk’s spectacular world record breaking feats and global titles help soften the pain and hurt of the lost time in our lives when we sacrificed and fought for freedom in our life time. Wayde demonstrates the abundance of talent out there. He also shows that talent must be developed, nurtured and supported. Today, Wayde runs with pride for South Africa, knowing the past that got him to where he competes internationally, an opportunity denied his champion sprint athlete mother.

Today, he runs with no chains, just the freedom of his talent and desire to discover his worth.  But perhaps he also carries with him that piece thats always remembering his mother for sacrificing her sports life so he could one day represent himself without chains.

Unknowingly, Wayde van Niekerk’s phenomenal athletics achievements have repaid over and over the debt owed to those who unselfishly contributed to freedom from apartheid and opportunities to participate internationally. This is because it’s again demonstrated that discrimination should never be allowed in sport, ever again in South Africa. Talent must be developed and supported.

Wayde van Niekerk wants to be known as a South African athlete.  For those of us still connecting the dots of the past to the present, Wayde represents the anti-apartheid spors struggle being worth it. He will always be the son of an anti-apartheid sport mother.

Where Are The Black Netballers In SA Teams? By Cheryl Roberts

19 Jun

Alarmingly, black players are significantly much fewer than white players in two South African netball teams announced recently. These teams represent South Africa, a country of white minority people and black majority people. They are also selected by a national netball federation that has a foundation of majority black players, teams and clubs. So why are there only about 25 percent of black players in the national u21 and senior squads?

Netball South Africa, the custodian federation for administration, development, organisation and advancement of netball in South Africa recently announced two national teams. One team being the SA u21 for the youth world cup to be held in Botswana in July and the other being a national senior squad, preparing for future international competition.

But how does NSA explain that in a team of 12 for the SA u21 team, 8 players are white and four are black? And how again does NSA account for only 6 Black players being selected into a national senior squad of 26 players with 20 players being white.

Don’t say that coaches and selectors see beyond colour and race in sports selection. Colour and race do matter and are crucial. If you can see white talent in the youth and senior ranks then why can’t coaches and selectors see black talent?

There is black netball talent in South Africa. Look at the performances and growth of world class netballers Phumza Maweni and Bongi Msomi. If these two black players could have been noticed and selected, then can’t many other black netballers also get selected for international play?IMG_2731

I watched three rounds of the 2017 National Pro League in Cape Town and was astounded to see how five of the ten teams were white-dominated with a few black players in these teams. And it was the black-dominated teams that finished bottom five with the white-dominated teams finishing top five.

National coach Plummer may say she can only select ‘the best’ and seemingly ‘the best’ are largely from the white-dominated teams. The challenge of noticing black netballers is at regional and provincial level, where black netballers are being dissed, marginalised and dismissed. The black netballers are there. They are playing. Give them the same opportunities you are giving the white players.

We must question and challenge the make up of SA’s national youth and senior squads/teams. We must ask why are teams white-dominated, especially in sports like netball where the majority membership is black. And we mustn’t be afraid to challenge for answers why black girl netballers are not developing to international standard whilst white girl netballers are coming through the ranks.

Netball South Africa surely can’t tolerate provincial and pro league teams being white-dominated. Take a policy decision and instruct teams to have at least 50% black players playing on court, not just 1 or 2 black players.

This 75% white netball teams from provincial to national level is unacceptable. Not all provinces and regions are guilty of ignoring and dissing black player talent. Perhaps NSA should hold workshops to open the lens of white selectors and coaches to see black talent because clearly several of them are noticing just white talent.

I’m raising these challenges because they have become unbearable and because players and volunteer officials are afraid to question NSA. There’s much unhappiness about representation of these national youth and senior teams.

NSA officials have a responsibility to South Africa and the netball membership to protect and develop ALL players and select representative teams!


Ban Helen Zille’s White Privilege Project In The Western Cape! By Cheryl Roberts

15 Jun

It’s not tweets about her ‘positives from colonialism’ that should get Helen Zille suspended from the DA’s executive committees or whatever leadership positions she occupies. It’s her supreme support for the maintenance of white economic power, white business control and white privilege in the Western Cape that should have Helen Zille banned for life from the DA.

You can see from her tweets how Helen Zille thinks, her acknowledgement of the good and respect for colonialism, how she believes, despite apologising for her tweets, that ‘if it weren’t for colonial rule, Africa wouldn’t have advanced’.

Indeed, Helen Zille is correct about colonialism. That’s if she is thanking the colonial project, a violent and horrendous interaction for black people, but enabling and supportive for whites to get rich, take land away from indigenous and authentic owners and set up capitalist empires thru extraction of Africa’s natural resources and much more.

What is frightening and vastly evident is how Helen Zille, thru her control of the DA in the Western Cape and government portfolio as Premier and mayor (Cape Town mayor before premier) ensures continualisation and support for the colonial project. This essentially being about white economic and business power!

Look at economic development in the Western Cape in post-apartheid South Africa. It’s the white people who are controlling the economic and business power. In Cape Town, who is owning developments on the lucrative land that is the Atlantic Seaboard, in the Cape Town CBD and gentrification projects? It’s all white people!

This white-dominated ownership is allowed and supported by the DA in the Western Cape, with Helen Zille as premier of the Western Cape. You can see where Helen Zille’s ‘tweets’ are coming from, how they are being played out and what impact they have on economic and land control in today’s Western Cape.

How does Zille explain this white economic power being maintained and supported in the post-apartheid era? How does Zille account for invisibility of black business and non-black land and property ownership on the Atlantic Seaboard and CBD? Why are property and rental prices so exhorbitant in Cape Town in areas close to the CBD and Atlantic Seaboard and the winelands outside Cape Town? It’s because of the colonial and apartheid heritage and inheritance! White people still have the money violently attained from oppressing black people and making blacks work for profits accumulated for whites!

But the DA under Helen Zille in the Western Cape is not doing much to change this white economic control. The DA ain’t sharing and assisting black people to get into prime land and property ownership.

So it’s not so much about her insensitive and colonial-supporting tweets that Helen Zille should be forced to apologise and be suspended from the DA. It’s because of how she uses the power of office of the Premier in the Western Cape to support and advance white economic control that Zille must be removed from office.

Through her policies and actions, Zille has shown she’s not existing for the people of the Western Cape, irrespective of class and race, but for the economically privileged from the colonial and apartheid projects, and that means white people.

I challenge Helen Zille to account for consolidation of white economic power in the Western Cape and to account for her strangulation of black economic advancement.

‘Colonial supporter’ tweeting Zille  must not counter by saying tenders for business are ‘open to everyone’ and the ‘best tender wins’. Does this mean ‘the best’ are white businesses? Yes, black and emerging businesses gets some work here and there from the DA-controlled city of Cape Town and Western Cape Town. But these are the small monies for small projects. It’s the Atlantic Seaboard, CBD and gentrified areas where you see the white economic stranglehold viciously and at times, inhumanely at work and consolidation.

8cheryl roberts  in the rain forest in ghana

Cheryl Roberts (writer of the blog)

Don’t suspend or discipline Helen Zille for her favourable colonial tweets. Take action against Helen Zille for her purposeful support for consolidation of white economic power in the Western Cape.

Why Is There No Money For South Africa’sWomen In Sport? By Cheryl Roberts

1 Jun


There’s no denying that gender inequalities exist in South African sport. There is general agreement that sport in South Africa mirrors our society’s patriarchal entrenchment, male-domination and male hegemony. Women in sport suffer because of men’s control of sport.

The imbalances, inequalities and discrimination have been spoken about, called out and protested against by various voices and writings about South African sport narratives. But why do women in sport and sportswomen continue to be victims of gender discrimination? Why are sportswomen made to struggle when gender discrimination doesn’t exist in South Africa’s constitution; a constitution existing to protect and look after South Africa’s people?IMG_0935

Professional leagues, allowing for sportswomen to play sport full-time and as career opportunities don’t exist in sport, yet they exist plentiful for men in sport. Women in sport and sportswomen are crying out for full-time, professional leagues which will allow and help women to concentrate on sport like their international counterparts and be accorded the same privilege as their men counterparts.

It’s always the same answer when professional leagues for sportswomen, are called for. ‘There is no money and there is no sponsor willing to buy into a professional league’, is the similar reply from men sports administrators. But why is there no money when women are consumers, buying from and supporting businesses and corporates?

There is a fundamental and conscious neglect of sportswomen advancement and development of women in sport in South African sport. If sports federations can develop sports boys and sportsmen, then why do they not also focus on the sportswomen? disgustingly, many sports federations look much better after sports boys and junior boys in sport than sportswomen!

Are the answers not blatant and obvious? Men in control of sport look after men’s interests in sport and give less attention to women in sport. Yes, there is development of girls in sport in sports federations but the girls are not sufficiently and adequately assisted and supported to international level.

In most sports in South Africa, sportsgirls and sportswomen simply don’t get enough domestic and international competition. There’s always not enough money to assist the sportswomen. When there is money allocated from government or LOTTO (SA sport’s major funders), then some sports have the audacity to focus on the boys and men whilst neglecting the girls and women.

South African sport gets away with this neglect of developing and advancing women in sport because there is no organised resistance and protest against gender discrimination. There is no power of sportswomen being shown, by the women in sport for the sportswomen! So the men controlling sport can deliver sport  thru their male lens knowing they can continue on this pathway without being brought down. Seemingly, sportswomen accept the handouts given to them here and there, now and then. But this is not so. Sportswomen are angry; they are also afraid to speak out in case they are victimised within their sports federation.

Sportswomen have had enough of this male control and domination of sport. Cricket has launched a global tournament, rugby is bidding to host a world cup and SASCOC found R100 million for a Commonwealth Games Bid process. So there is money and money can be found for sport. Why can’t money be found to advance women in sport?

It’s not that money doesn’t exist! It’s because preservation of male hegemony in sport in South Africa is pivotal to keeping men in control of sport, with women and sportswomen getting some attention here and there, but never getting the financial power they need.

If the men officials in sport really had the desire to disrupt male control and male privilege in South African sport, they would mount a fierce campaign against gender discrimination and inequality in South African sport. It’s because men’s interests and power are preserved and maintained, that men sports officials have little desire to disrupt and challenge a system of support that favours them incredibly.