Athletics coaches say government regulations that every public-school student should participate in sport has come in handy for them in order to retain the girl child in sports.
However, this retainment is short lived as when the adolescent stage kicks in and the girl child’s world is open, most of them leave sport.
It has been recorded those girls start to drop out from sport particularly from athletics from the age of 18 years old.
According to athletics coach and Junior certificate teacher Argo Lefatshe, ‘the rate at which girls drop out is a growing concern which may not have many solutions to curb it.’
“As a teacher I am privileged because I tend to see the talent young girls have due to the schools’ firm regulations to have all students participate in running competitions,” Lefatshe explained.
“And because of this, I can use my right as a teacher to force them to explore their talent through participating. But once they leave school, I hold on to dear mercy for them to still come for training but they hardly show up,” he narrated.
As it stands, Lefatshe said even though the drop out occurs mostly in the female side he has realized that even the boy child now is slowly adopting the behavior. However, the boy child drops out of athletics and opts for a field sport like football while the girl child drops out of sports completely.
He added that coaching a girl child is very difficult and it requires a lot of responsibilities.
“If you take a girl athlete for a tournament, you have to always be in contact with her parents or guardians. After the tournament, it is also your responsibility as the coach to drop her home. You have to knock at their parents’ door, see the parent and ensure safe arrival,” he said.
“With boy athlete, you only tell him about the tournament and you are sure he will come running. After the tournament, you literally drop him off by his parents’ gate and leave,” he said.
As hard as it, he said the girl child cannot be left out in sport because they are equally important as the boy child in sport.
“Another problem we are having is that when they start dating, their boyfriends either complain that ‘they develop muscles,’ ‘they wear short clothing which exposes their body and so on.’ Gradually they leave sport to keep their relationships,” Lefatshe pointed out.
As a way of retaining the girl child in athletics, the only option they have is to speak to them on a regular basis. However, this is not a solution as it has proven over time that it does not work due to the number of the girl child dropping out from athletics.
Among the ladies who are national athletes Lefatshe said he salutes Amantle Montsho and Galefele Moroko for following their passion and talent even though they both have different stories to tell about their journey in athletics.
“Galefele is only one of a few girls I know who became mothers and still returned to athletics. Amantle on the other hand sacrificed her time to start her own family and carried on with sport,” he explained.
“I really admire these two ladies every day for their bravery and I wish we could have many like this two,” he concluded.