Victory over matter

Thursday, August 3, 2023

By Neo Semono

Women’s Month got off to a thrilling start - thanks to the endeavours of South African women on the sporting terrain demonstrating that women can do anything they set their minds to.

Anxiety ruled supreme for those watching the midweek game between Banyana Banyana and Italy after which ululations were undoubtedly the order of the day.

While Banyana Banyana were crowned champions of the Women’s African Cup of Nations last year, this time around they were facing a team ranked 16th on the FIFA Women’s World Ranking and that was no easy feat.

While that may sound bias, life has not been easy for many women in South Africa and indeed for many others around the world.

The national senior women’s team didn’t just show up for the clash, but they made history in their nail biting finish.

While ululations in true South African style continue, reflecting on the fixture shows that the match served as a conduit of the country’s hopes and aspirations at a time when the country is tackling many a challenge.

Post the match, many young girls that have been playing soccer on imperfect pitches to pass the time are likely contemplating taking up the sport professionally, despite challenges.

The euphoria we find ourselves in as a result of their win, highlights the fact that with determination, nothing is impossible.

Three-days into Women’s Month, Banyana Banyana, made history becoming the first senior South African football team to qualify for the knockout round of the World Cup underway in New Zealand and Australia.

 They however are not the only women making the nation proud.

The SPAR Proteas team drew with New Zealand in a spirited game in the Netball World Cup that South Africa is hosting in the Western Cape.

With additional pressure of the world cup being hosted on African soil for the first time, the Proteas gave it their all, drawing with the defending champions. While there are other matches still to go, the ladies are flying the South African flag high.

This is in addition to the feat of Tatjana Schoenmaker on her 200m breaststroke victory. The win has made her the first South African woman to win gold at the World Aquatics Championships.

Sport indeed has the power to unite a nation enmeshed in the very real daily challenges of unemployment, gender-based violence and poverty, among others.

Across communities, office parks and indeed the international community, women in sport are the talk of the town.

Just as there are challenges in other sectors of our society, sport has not been spared with gender disparity in relation to income still to be adequately addressed. 

In taking cognisance of the challenges of women sport, Cabinet recently approved the gazetting of the draft Policy on Women in Sport for public comment.

The policy outlines a set of measures that will promote and support women in sport and ensure programmes are in place to address gender disparities in sporting codes and structures.

It also addresses barriers to entry by women in sport such as a lack of funding, sponsorship and inadequate remuneration. The proposed policy intends to promote increased active participation of women in sport and leadership roles such as coaching and officiating.

Women in sport are proving that despite the uphill challenges, the human spirit is resilient and does triumph over adversity. They are living proof. While much has been done to advance the interests of women, much more remains to be done to support them in many other areas of society.

Win or lose, we all should be proud of their accomplishments. The women who marched to the Union Buildings 67 years ago would certainly be.-