Secretary General of North West Province Sports Confederation and CEO of Mabaleng A Basadi, Vivian Bowker, aims to have organised sport clubs in all rural areas, with women leading each association.
Bowker is currently empowering young girls and women in rural areas as she hopes to help them pave a way for themselves in sport.
Apart from her duties in the boardroom as SG, Bowker’s NPO – Mabaleng A Basadi – was inspired by her late mother which introduces sports and fitness to older women and girls with disabilities.
Her classes started with twenty older women and the number has increased to 500 participating in recreational fitness.
Speaking with Tlamelo Kganakga, Bowker reveals prominent women in sport she draws inspiration from and her greatest ambition for women in sport in the future.
Vivian, thank you for chatting to us. Please introduce yourself to our readers.
My name is Vivian Bowker and I’m 45 years old. I stay in Mafikeng and I’m a mom of 3 boys. I’m a fitness and gymnastics Coach by profession. I’m the President of NW Gymnastics and also the Secretary General of the North West Sports Confederation. I’m the CEO of Mabaleng A Basadi which is a Non-Profit Organization that introduce sport and fitness to older persons (women) inspired by my mom who passed away due to cardiovascular disease and women and girls living with disabilities.
When and where did your love for sport begin?
My love for sport started when I started participating at 10 years old and thrived in athletics at school. When I was 12 years, I asked my mom to register me for Gymnastics at Mmabana Mafikeng, although I didn’t become an Olympic Gymnast, I noticed how Gymnastics training kept me in peak form in athletics and that’s where I started loving sport. All my siblings and mom had weight issues but my participation in sport somehow kept me looking quite good.
If you had a chance to change one rule on sport. Which one would it be?
I wouldn’t change a rule but rather add a rule that there must be 50% representation of women in decision making position in all sporting structures and their funding must be dependent on that rule being honoured.
What are the challenges you have faced in your career?
The biggest challenge that we face in the North West is the lack of sport development in rural and underprivileged areas – lack of sport infrastructure in those areas!
What is your role as the Secretary General of the North West Sports Confederation?
My role as the Secretary General is basically to create synergy between NWPSC, Provincial Sports Federations, and the Department of Sport. I’m responsible for all administrative duties in the NWPSC.
What does it take to lead an organization?
Being a President of any sport organization needs you to be a peoples person and be humble, Respectful and driven to grow the Organization to greater heights.
In your opinion, how can sport grow in the North West Province?
Let the sports practitioners lead the way in sport development. Focus our resources and support in rural areas. Put more emphasis on recreation and school sport. Sport participation must start as early as possible, and never be limited to a certain age.
How do you balance managing your NPO and being the secretary general of NW Sports Confederation?
I make sure that I plan my schedule properly to ensure that none of my roles overlapone another. When it’s time for coaching, I focus on my classes and schedule my meetings or duties as the Secretary General after my classes, because remember my gym classes are my source of income, but I also have young women that I work with to take over my classes when my duties becomes too hectic.
What are some of your career highlights to date?
When I started an older persons fitness class with around 20 grannies and a year later I had 500 older persons participating in recreational fitness classes. And, getting children living with disabilities to learn rope recreationally and ending up competing provincially, that alone made me realize that developing sport was not just a career but a calling for me.
Who are some of the sportswomen you admire and why?
The women I admire are Mama Ria Ledwaba for never giving up in a male-dominated sport despite what was being said about her and Mama Ntambi Ravele for believing that sport would be at such a better place in our country if women were to be given equal opportunities be given to lead and make vital decisions.
What’s your greatest ambition?
To have organised sport clubs in all our rural communities and have girls and women from those communities managing those clubs.
What do you think we as media can do to amplify women’s sport?
All year media coverage of women in sport and not just during Women’s Month. Promote participation of rural women in sport to assist in breaking the traditional barrier of women and girls only being good enough to bear children and doing household duties.
What are you looking forward to for the future of sport in North West?
I’m looking forward to a time where we will gather over the weekends to go and watch cricket, rugby, equestrian and angling in Disaneng Village, and not just soccer and netball.
Photo 1 Caption: Secretary General of North West Province Sports Confederation and CEO of Mabaleng A Basadi, Vivian Bowker, aims to have organised sport clubs in all rural areas, with women leading each association. Photo: Supplied