Give black sports girls win­ning power

The Star Early Edition - - LETTERS - Ch­eryl Roberts

WITH phe­nom­e­nal sports suc­cess be­ing at­tained by South Africa’s ju­nior and se­nior ath­letes, 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.

An hon­est ap­praisal 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.

Where are the black sports girls? Why are they not also 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. We topped the medals ta­ble be­cause we got more gold medals than other coun­tries. But Kenya fin­ished tops with 15 medals com­pared to our 11.

We had four black boy world cham­pi­ons and one white girl cham­pion. Kenya de­liv­ered girls and boys among their medal­lists. 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 South Africa go­ing to have rep­re­sen­ta­tive na­tional se­nior teams? It’s not that black girls can’t achieve in­ter­na­tion­ally. South Africa’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. What sup­port is given to black girls to de­liver world-class per­for­mances?

Af­ter world class ath­letes like Se­menya, Tenge, Situ, Msomi and Maweni re­tire, where is the next gen­er­a­tion? They are not sur­fac­ing from the ju­nior ranks now.

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.

How are they pro­tected and sup­ported in the sports sys­tem?

Cape Town

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