Anneline Lewies: “The Essence of Leadership is to Influence Direction”

Inspirational leader, Anneline Lewies, has been rising up the ranks in sport as she was recently appointed Safeguarding Officer for Tennis South Africa.

Leading to her appointment, previously Lewies had the opportunity to lecture Safeguarding for Diploma students at UJ Sport and Movement studies in 2014.

She also compiled a policy document for Netball South Africa and did Safeguarding workshops for netball coaches from 2014 – 2021, as well as Safeguarding workshops for Tennis South Africa between 2018 – 2019, which eventually led to her appointment at TSA.

As Lewies leads paves the way for women in sport in the leadership space, her advice to young women who also aim to venture into the industry is to ensure that they use their careers to inspire the next generation.

Speaking with Tlamelo Kganakga, Lewies chats more about her journey and the importance of women in leadership positions.

 

Anneline, thank you for chatting to us. Please tell us about yourself and where you are from.

I am the youngest of five girls. Grew up in Namibia, Bloemfontein and Johannesburg. My parents were amazing role models and taught us to be humble and treat people from all walks of life with dignity and humanity. My sisters are very close to me and are supportive in my life and role models for me. I am married to a wonderful supportive husband, a mother to three children (a son and two daughters), a daughter-in-law and grandmother to a beautiful grandson.

When and where did your love for sport begin?

My mother represented SWA (South West Africa) in netball and we all played netball from a very young age. We also participated in other sport such as athletics, korfball, and tennis at school and university. My father played rugby and we were taught that it is important to be physically active. In my younger years, I also played golf.

You are now a Safeguarding officer at Tennis South Africa. Please tell us about the appointment and what it’s all about.

I qualified as a social worker in 1987 at PUKKE. In 2014 I wrote a manual for SASCOC for coach developer training and the importance of Safeguarding in sport. I had the opportunity to lecture Safeguarding as one of the modules for Diploma students at UJ Sport and Movement studies in 2014. I also did a policy document for Netball South Africa and did Safeguarding workshops for netball coaches from 2014 – 2021. I did Safeguarding workshops for Tennis South Africa during 2018 – 2019 and assisted them with their Safeguarding policy. I was approached to be their Safeguarding Officer in April 2022 and appointed in May 2022.

Safeguarding in sport is very important to protect the health and well-being of children and vulnerable adults. Currently there is a big outcry against GBV and various forms of abuse within the sporting circles. Bullying is rife within the sporting fraternity and affects females and males. Historic cases are also a serious warning of the lack of Safeguarding in sport during the past 40 years (abuse of female and male athletes). I have also done Safeguarding workshops for Cricket SA, Lifesaving SA, SAFA, and Swim SA.

What did you do before becoming a Safeguarding officer at Tennis South Africa?

I was the Director of Coaching for Netball South Africa from October 2011 – October 2021. Prior to the position, I was the President of Gauteng West Netball (2004-2011), served on the Gauteng Netball Board as well as the Gauteng Coaches Commission. I coached at various schools, clubs, Gauteng West Provincial teams, UJ, PUKKE and the Red Kestrells. I also held an NSA “B” umpire grading and had to retire in 2011 when I was elected as Director of Coaching for NSA. I worked fulltime from 1988 – 2011 as a social worker, bookkeeper, and HR. I am an anti-doping educator for South African Institute for Drugfree Sport (SAIDS) from 2015 – current. I also assist Lifesaving SA with their coach education and consult for Cricket SA occasionally.

What have been some of the challenges you have faced and how did you overcome them?

My passion and commitment in anything I do is important, and I deal with challenges as they arise. Making mistakes is part of life and growth and therefor you have to get up and continue with learning through your mistakes.

What are some of your career highlights to date?

With the SASCOC SA Coaching Framework, the Long Term Coach Developer (LTCD) program and Long Term Participant Development (LTCD), I have grown as a leader in sport. I had the opportunity to enter for a Master of Science in Management of Technology and Innovation (with electives in sport) and completed my degree in May 2022 submitting a dissertation on Transformation of Elite Women Sports Coaches within the South African Netball context. I also received an award for top achiever in Management of Technology (Da Vinci Institute). I was elected as the Vice-chairperson of the Professional Body for sports coaching, the South African Sports Coaching Association (SASCA) in 2021 and see this professional body as an important vehicle for the standardizing of sports coaching education and ensuring that aspects of licensing (designations), safeguarding, police clearances, anti-doping education and continuous professional development for coaches are considered for the future of South African sports coaches.

Who are some of the sportswomen you admire and why?

The late Lynette Ferreira of NSA was an absolute role model of leadership and humanity. Her passion for sport and integrity in life was an inspiration for me. I also admire Caster Semenya for her grit and determination in her quest for fair participation in sport. Bongiwe Msomi is another young woman that is an inspiration to women across South Africa and globally.

Let’s talk about leadership roles in women’s sport. Where do you think we can improve and why is it important for women to take up space in leadership roles?

The requirements of leadership of organisations, both in sports and business relies on personal agility (adapt quicker), leading people (inclusivity and building diverse teams which are innovative and resilient) and transforming the system. This implies creating impact through problem probing, understanding complex problems, and involving multiple stakeholders through opening all disciplines to what they share and beyond to see possibilities. The essence of leadership is to influence direction. Agile leadership is demonstrated by elite women in that they should capitalise on the ideation process, being visionary and future-oriented to create a product or system that impacts performance within the team or organisation’s context.

The three similarities between sports and business are described as: 1) great leaders know their roles, 2) both aim to maximise their team’s potential, and 3) the best leaders know their team’s short- and long-term needs.

What are some of the lessons you learned along the way in your journey and that have shaped you to be where you are now?

The most important thing is to never lie because you will be found out! (Ali Bacher). Look after staff and set an example. Do something from your heart, not because of power or entitlement. Just say thank you to people and appreciate what they do. Be passionate about what you do.

What’s your greatest career ambition?

To make a difference to the lives of people and share my knowledge and information.

What’s your advice to young women who want to get into sporting leadership roles?

Every young leader has dreams. John Maxwell says that: “a leader knows the way, shows the way, and goes the way”. Dream leaders lead by serving, not to be served. Let a substantial part of your dream be to inspire others to pursue theirs. Examine where people’s talents and passions lie. Allow people to try new things and take initiative. Further training and education help people fulfil their dreams, envisage dreams and avoid losing touch with changing circumstances. Remember that dream leaders serve others and actively help them pursue their dreams. Stick to God’s dream as the test for authenticity (Bruce Wilkinson) and catch people in, not out. The way you treat other people will be a testimony of who you are.

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