gsport is making a valuable contribution towards the advancement of women’s sport in South Africa, according to SA Hockey Association (SAHA) chief executive Marissa Langeni.
“gsport has raised the bar in ensuring that women athletes are recognised,” Langeni says.
“This initiative has revitalised the sports industry and plays a leading role in recognising talented athletes, support staff of the women’s game and media who continually set the standard for women’s sport.
“We are pleased that gsport continually supports our efforts through media articles and the (annual) awards.”
Launched in 2006 by South Africa’s first female cricket commentator, Kass Naidoo, gsport has become a leading media source for women’s sport.
The online initiative has assisted in raising the profile of women’s sport in a tough and competitive media climate. Through its website, gsport fills the gaps left by mainstream media by publishing daily news stories that boost the visibility of women’s sport.
It also extends its support for women in sport through its annual awards ceremony.
The awards, which have become a special feature on the calendar, have played a key role in shining the spotlight on teams, athletes, administrators, volunteers and women in media.
Past winners include SA road and time trial cycling champion Ashleigh Moolman Pasio, road running sensation Mapaseka Makhanya, world top-10 ranked wheelchair tennis ace Kg Montjane, 2012 Olympic silver medallist Caster Semenya and hockey legend Pietie Coetzee.
After being named as the gsport Federation of the Year in 2012, Langeni says SAHA remains proud to be associated with the initiative.
“Having attended the awards, I can confidently say that the recognition that individuals get is absolutely priceless. It is a wonderful initiative and goes a long way to promoting national pride in our women achievers.
“SAHA prides itself on being associated with gsport and has been honoured in various award categories, with some of our athletes being recognised for their achievements on the world stage.”
National women’s soccer team captain Janine van Wyk also believes gsport has given women in sport the recognition they deserve.
“The gsport initiative is something special and something every female athlete admires in the country,” Van Wyk says.
“It has created a huge impact in exposing female athletes, who may have never received exposure before.
“It is a platform where athletes are able to receive recognition for their achievements, as well as where the public can go to get information on our leading ladies.
“The awards showcase the effort and passion that women put in across their different sporting codes, and to see it all coming together at one event is truly phenomenal.”
Long distance runner Charne Bosman, who finished second behind fellow South African Caroline Wostmann in the women’s race at the Comrades Marathon this year, shares the same sentiments.
“As a top athlete the gsport website makes a huge difference. Sometimes our top female athletes are overlooked because of the men’s performances and this initiative gives the ladies an opportunity to be placed on a pedestal,” Bosman says.
“I think the awards event adds huge value for women in sport, as people in SA get to know the top ladies in all the different sport codes.”
However, while gsport has played a critical role in the coverage of women’s sport, recent research by the University of Pretoria found that women’s sport receives less coverage than men’s sport in the local media.
“I agree that there is still a far way to go with regards to women’s sport in the media,” Van Wyk says.
“As Banyana Banyana we do get far more exposure than before, but there is still much more that can be done to expose different sporting codes.”
Last year’s winner of the gsport Woman in Media award and Daily Sun reporter Busisiwe Mokwena applauded gsport for playing a leading role in the promotion of women’s sport.
“gsport reports on everything regarding women’s sport and has created awareness about the different athletes and their sporting codes, which has increased the profile of the athletes,” Mokwena says.
“Unfortunately women’s sport is still not getting enough media coverage and it is not only suffering in print but in broadcasting as well.
“This is partly because the federations are not doing enough to promote the athletes, which makes it hard to find stories on those athletes.”
One of gsport’s mandates is to improve the media profile of South African women in sport and in that manner facilitate increased sponsorship opportunities.
Reflecting on the effects of a lack of media coverage for sports women in South Africa, two-time Olympian and Commonwealth Games triathlete Kate Roberts says on her website that women, on average, receive only a small percentage of the total sponsorship money spent because of the lack of media attention they receive.
Langeni believes greater coverage, such as the publicity created by gsport, could make it easier for women’s teams and athletes to find funding.
“Media exposure is paramount. Sponsors are always interested to evaluate the level of exposure they will receive if they sponsor a women’s team, and it is only through media exposure that this can best be measured.”
Photo 1 caption: SA Hockey Association CEO Marissa Langeni and SAHA president Mike du Plessis acknowledge Marsha Cox ahead of earning her 300th cap for South Africa, against Ghana during the team’s World League Round 2 series, in acknowledgement of her unparalleled achievement in national colours. Photo: Plate Pictures
Photo 2 caption: Past winners at the gsport Awards include SA cycling champion Ashleigh Moolman Pasio, top-10 ranked wheelchair tennis ace Kg Montjane (pictured), road running sensation Mapaseka Makhanya, 2012 Olympic silver medallist Caster Semenya and hockey legend Pietie Coetzee. Photo: Supplied