They say dynamite comes in small packages.
In the petite Game Mothibi, the meaning cannot be truer! Short in stature, Mothibi possesses an indomitable spirit, something which makes her stand out as a giant.
Unlike many, the Kanye born administrator, leader, go getter and mentor to many wears many hats. Whether because of the constant need for her to prove herself because of her short stature, Mothibi, who is a gender and children’s rights activist is not only a worker, but also a leader, go getter and mentor to many.
“I believe I was born an activist or maybe my life experiences led me to it because I was raised by an activist, a single mother who entered a male and chauvinistic profession, but never backed down but rather fought her way to the table,” Mothibi said.
Growing up, Mothibi says her mother’s experiences in church and as a church minister made her question a lot about societal norms and practices and made her realise how unbalanced and unfair it was to women.
By the time Mothibi got to table tennis, she says she did not want to experience what her mother went through, more so as sport is also negatively skewed against women and is viewed as ‘a men’s terrain.’
“I started fighting for my place in sport and then later fought for other women and girls. That is how I landed in activism,” she explained.
On her choice of table tennis as her sport, Mothibi says she was drawn to it as it is ‘a very peaceful and quiet sport.’ This sport was a good fit for Mothibi as ‘it resonated well with her true self, her inner being which is not known to a lot of people.’
“I grew up very reserved and quiet. I am still reserved and like my space. After too much talking because of activism, I go back to my corner and just stay with my own thoughts. My family knows me as a quiet person, and people out there see me as loud,” Mothibi explained.
As a woman and a leader in a male dominated sports arena, she has experienced more challenges and stereotypes of some sort.
“I had to work hard to prove myself at almost everything as people questioned my motives and my successes were being associated with favours and not hard work,” she said.
“I had to raise my voice to be heard but then live with being labelled loud, irritating and emotional. It did not help because I am short and people always looked at me as young and not ready for any responsibility,” Mothibi continued.
Despite making a name for herself and fighting against all odds that stood her way, it seems the fight is not yet over for Mothibi. Due to being an activist she said she still gets people on Facebook sending her messages asking her if she thinks women can be equal to men?
“All I know is that I stand my ground and I believe in what I am preaching and I know victory is certain,” she said.
For all her activism, Mothibi said her fire to excel was lit by both women and men, who she credits with helping her to get where she is today.
“I still cherish my working relationship with the BNOC board I got into office with. During the campaigns and during the time I served, they accorded me the respect I deserved, they believed and trusted my work. Negroes Kgosietsile never hesitated to give me roles and never looked at me as young or being a woman. Working under Kitso Kemoeng also helped to shape my career and earned me the respect I needed at work,” she said.
Having worked with Dorcus Makgato made me learn quickly and working with Tsoseletso Magang encouraged to keep going,” she added.
All this investment by women and men of sport has definitely not gone to waste. From being the secretary general for the International Working Group for women in sport in 2018, she has now been elected as the African representative to the IWG global executive.
After stepping in as the interim IWG Africa representative following the passing of Matilda Mwaba early this year, Mothibi was nominated by the Africa women sport Network to finish off Matilda’s term and also start a new term being 2022-2026.
“This was exciting and scary at the same time. I saw growth for myself but I also questioned myself if I will be able to achieve the work needed for Africa. But I put trust in God and I know I will make my mark,” Mothibi said.
As a legacy, Mothibi plans and hopes to close the gap of documenting the work done by African women in sport, and she said she would be happy to increase and research on African women and sport.
“It is always good for Africans to tell their story the best way they experience it, so I wish to see increased research and general documentation of African women and sport,” she said.
Nonetheless, she inspires to continue the legacy of hosting Africa women and sport conferences consistently, whether annually, bi-annually or quadrennially.
“Together with the Africa women and sport Network, we need to grow the Africa women and sport movement so that it becomes easy to make our mark,” Mothibi said.
“As for women, we know being a woman is a struggle on its own, it is a fight, but we cannot just give in, not now, not ever. We cannot settle for less; we cannot allow the status quo to remain. If we do not get to benefit on the work we are doing now, at least we know our children will benefit and they may not get to experience abuse, harassment, inequalities, disrespect, rape, GBV, low economic status, etc,” Mothibi said.