University of Western Cape is playing a major role in driving the development of female athletes in South Africa and currently offers 12 different sports codes that involve both genders.
It is at universities where most of the local professional athletes are scouted and taken to feature at national level. University sports are also important because they shape a student’s character beyond the academic realm, and it is for this reason that UWC have been at the forefront of providing a sporting platform.
However, improvement, especially when it comes to women’s sport is still on the cards and leadership needs to be taken from those at the top.
“We need sharp, younger minds in decision-making processes so that they can influence the decision-making process that will favour women in sports. More stakeholders, sponsors and corporates need to come on board in rallying behind and sponsoring this call”, said Media Liaison and official photographer for UWC Women’s Football Club, S’khulule Nkomphela.
A problem or a challenge is better understood by the people who experience it than by an outside party. The women’s basketball head coach, Marowaan Benting said, “The most exciting thing for me is that the Director of Sports wants all ladies’ teams to be coached by women by 2021 and that for me is the best news ever. UWC is actually taking a stand like that to support women in sport”.
“More people need to watch games and fill up stadiums.” – UWC Women’s Football team captain, Bongeka Gamede.
The question now becomes, where does one start?
“This question is easier said than done but we start with the supporting of women. Support is attending events, watching the games and can also be something as simple as lending your shin guards to a player in need,” said Banyana Banyana defender and captain of UWC Women’s Football team, Bongeka Gamede.
“Support is one of the best ways that can help with overcoming the challenges that are faced by women in sports. More people need to watch games and fill up stadiums, games need to trend more on social media, etc.”
Media plays a huge role in ensuring that the above mentioned can happen. UWC’s social media platforms opens the space for their sports to grow. Their main sports pages make sure to cover all sports and each sport has its own page.
For the highly competitive sports, though, there is a dire need for training programmes to be put in place. “We have a high-performance programme for our ladies which is supplemented by a fulltime physio and biokineticist where the ladies get group gym session twice a week”, said coach Benting.
“The university encourages us to get involved in sports.” UWC First Team Hockey captain, Keegan Jane Hunt.
What stands out from what the head coach said is the word ‘fulltime’ which is usually not associated with women’s sports as such only happens for special occasions. With the improvement of behind the scene works and efforts, the performance in the respective fields will result in great results.
For first team hockey player and captain, Keegan Jane Hunt, another programme that the university offers is encouragement. “UWC offers many sports for women. The university encourages us to get involved in sports”, she said.
When asked about the women’s sports stars that UWC has produced, Hunt mentioned Gamede. “Bongeka is a fine example. She is an amazing sportswoman with so much determination and dedication. She is an example to all women who want to achieve something in sport.”
There are many reasons as to why universities have and do not have two teams for each sport. Some women’s teams are there to promote gender equality and others do not exist simply because of the lack of numbers.
Whatever the reason may be, university sport should be a place of growth for every and any athlete. The year 2020 seems to be the year that universities are set on changing the way that they have been handling sports. More programmes are being put in place and everyone’s end goal is to become better than what they were in 2019.
Photo 1 Caption: The UWC Women’s Football team’s vision is to become better in 2019 and make it in the national league’s top four teams. Photo: S’khulule Nkomphela
Photo 2 Caption: The women’s basketball team is set to get equal funding and resources for the 2020 season. Photo: @uwc_basketball (Instagram)
Photo 3 Caption: UWC’s first team captain, Keegan Hunt, says that as women we need to stand together and support each other to make a difference in sports for our current and future generation to come. Photo: Courtesy of UWC on Instagram
With editing by gsport