Advancing the Fight for Women’s Sports

Precious Lesupi

“Our sports federations have evidently taken priority to phasing in black male participants into sports without saying anything about women”, according to Nomonde Mashabane, former Banyana Banyana player, this only counts for one of the reasons why women’s day should be focused on the greatness and need for women in the already male-dominated industries such as sports. She added, “everything that has been done around women sports during this pandemic is reliant on us as individuals”.

The KwaZulu Natal born qualified SAFA coach has resolved to working to keep up athlete’s fitness in one-on-one sessions, since her projects at the British Council have been put on hold amidst the pandemic. Mashabane has been working on a sports education programme that partners with the Premier League and Comic Relief that aims to empower the locals.

“I can count on both hands the number of times I have gone into a space to educate and was undermined because I am female,” she mentioned. “What are your qualifications” and “how do you know about soccer” have been the most common in questioning her credibility, which she overcomes by believing firmly in her work as she is one of the best in her field. “I used to intern at a sports federation and left because my boss told me I am always going to be an intern because I am a woman,” Mashabane continued.

I have used these experiences to make sure I educate the men I work with every chance I get. To ensure that women’s sports are taken seriously in our country, we have to start at grassroots levels. “What you do for boys, do for girls, and not just a piggy back thing, hire people and set out funds to do the work,” she said. The country’s federations also have to cease in doing the bare minimum by waiting for women’s complaints to solve an issue, they have to “create safe spaces for females to participate in sports they love”. Most importantly, according to premier skills coach Mashabane, we need to educate each other as a society about gender roles and ensure understanding that sports has no gender identification.

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