Give black sports girls winning power
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?