Leading women athletes have expressed their appreciation for the work of Sport and Recreation South Africa, and in particular Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, to uplift women’s sport in South Africa.
South Africa’s most capped athlete, Marsha Cox, believe it takes a strong man to acknowledge, celebrate and reward the success of a woman.
“We talk of sport being so powerful it unifies a nation, but often this refers to our diverse racial and religious nation, and we forget that sport also unifies us in our respect for both genders. Thank you for showing your support and encouragement to the sports women in SA, young and old!”
Champion runner, Caster Semenya, says: “Since he got on board we feel the love and support we need, and as women we feel recognized and celebrated for the work we are doing for the Nation.
“He has turned women’s sport in a direction where young women are motivated, inspired and hungry to do well! We salute you Razzmatazz! May you live long! May God bless you!”
Recently retired netball star Zanele Mdodana also paid tribute to SRSA and Minister Mbalula, saying: “We are blessed as SA women in sport to have a sport minister who is for us. Who recognises the important role we play as women in South African sport. Thank you Minister for your support. Ungadinwa Nkhokheli… (Keep on keeping on)”
According to SRSA media liaison officer, Esethu Hasane, SRSA is working tirelessly to improve coverage and exposure of women’s sport in South Africa. The department acknowledges the backlog and inequalities which exist in sport, and admit the gender and race inequalities have hindered transformation in sport.
“The plan calls for investment in school sport which we believe are a corner stone to sustainable development and will lead to transformation. The department spends over 65% of its budget in mass participation program,” said Hasane.
These programs largely benefit learners across South Africa, with the majority being girls. The Minister believes this grows and nurtures talent for the future.
Netball is one of the fastest growing female sports in South Africa, and together with the department of Sports & Recreation, recently hosted a farewell dinner for the netball players who are currently representing the country in this year’s World Cup.
“We have invested funds and support to strengthen the federation,” added Hasane. “With also support coming from the private sector, Netball now has its own league that has been running for two years now successfully.”
Hasane said that the positive results have encouraged Minister Mbalula, “It was with great pleasure for him to see efforts of professionalizing netball bearing fruit, when our girls were sent off to the World Cup.”
NSA President, Mimi Mthethwa, says: “The support from Minister Fikile Mbalula is absolutely invaluable. He was very vocal and reassured all the Netball Players in the Country that he would support the development of netball from grassroots level, through the ranks, all the way to the SPAR Protea Team.
“The confidence and trust Minister Mbalula displays in Netball South Africa gives our investors the confidence to invest in us, and our team. The confidence shown by the Minister through constant attention and a solid pledge for netball gave our National team the boost they so dearly needed, and this was evident in their performance in the recent Diamond Challenge.”
South Africa’s top five sports federations; SAFA, SARU, Cricket SA, Netball SA and Athletics SA, have signed a Transformation Charter Agreement with the Minister of Sport, committing to the departments transformation agenda.
“The Minister’s plan for the future is to ensure compliance with this charter so that our sport can be representative of our countries demographics in terms of gender and race balance. He also wants to turn professional more sport codes that are played by women,” said Hasane.
Photo 1 caption: Sports and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula with the winners unveiled at the 2014 Honouring Women in Sport Awards. Photo: Supplied