Women’s sport is fuelled by the support of volunteers and community sports activists, who work, mostly unnoticed, to raise the profile of our female athletes around the country.
Cheryl Roberts is a well-known sports activist, publisher and writer, who was drawn to supporting women’s sport due to apartheid prejudices and discrimination of race and gender in sport.
Roberts, who has been involved in sports from grassroots to international level, says: “I have played club, regional, school and national sport; have coached, been a sports administrator and official, delegate to meetings and events.”
Roberts became a sports volunteer during her teenage years and to this day, has not worked a formal job, therefore has never been paid a salary. She says her payment was joy.
“My seminar and conference talks, my research, my coaching, my administration time, has all been done because I wanted to be involved and agreed to participate,” she said.
She attended four universities, two in South Africa and two in England. Cheryl didn’t play any sport in University because she despised apartheid and its policies. After completing three degrees in South Africa, she moved to England, where she played sport at university level for the first time.
“I represented the University of York in the English Universities table tennis championship where I reached the semi-finals; then I got selected to represent English Universities at the British Universities championship,” she explained.
Roberts recalls how she desperately wanted to write about sport, particularly about how they played anti-apartheid sport. “One of my happiest moments in my life was when I had my first sports article published in a newspaper.
“It was a story about an oppressed woman hockey player in Durban, Marian Marescia, who was one of South Africa’s best women hockey players, and is also the mother of SA women’s hockey international, Marsha Marescia Cox,” she said.
Roberts enjoys lending her voice to the voiceless. “I took a decision to never support apartheid, never support an unequal society and racial prejudice,” she continued.
“I have much freedom in writing. I write what must be written. My publications and books, from the outset, have never supported white privilege and white supremacy.”
Roberts publishes a monthly magazine – “South African Sports Women” – which features stories of women excelling in sport.
Her articles feature many black athletes, their success and struggle stories. Her vision for the publication is to ensure that women in sport are looked after and given extensive coverage within the publication.
“I don’t write to be favorited or complimented or liked; I write and publish what must be written. I write about our fabulous South African people in sport and also about injustices, inequalities and gender discrimination.
“I’m not afraid to call out racism, racial privilege, wrongs and limitations of SA’s sports network. I do this out of concern for a better and progressive society,” Roberts concluded.
Photo Caption 1: Cheryl Roberts enjoys telling success stories of women in sport. Photo: Supplied
Photo Caption2: Cheryl Roberts handing over a copy of her latest publication to SASCOC President, Gideon Sam. Photo: Supplied
Photo Caption 3: Sports activist, writer and publisher Cheryl Roberts. Photo: Supplied