“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair,” Words of the late Nelson Mandela.
An opportunity lies before the human race in putting ideals of what sport is into action in diverting gender-based violence and inequality. The language of sport goes far beyond the action in the fields every game play but its native language is unity, togetherness, hard-work, love and a target goal or achievement.
Sport, a teacher of teamwork, self-reliance and resilience; targeting not only the one’s involved in it but the wider world.
Unlike Politics and business, sport can be the best vehicle to address gender inequality and gender-based violence due to how it relates to the wider society.
BOPA sport journalist Anastacia Sibanda says sport has a big role to play in fighting GBV.
She said this is visible in western countries where players are leading the fight against GBV or any other societal ills through public statements or messages printed on t-shirts.
Sibanda highlighted that like other pressing issues such as racism, which is being fought through sport, the same can be done for the fight against GBV.
She explained that at this crucial moment, there is a need for everyone in sport, athletes and administrators included to stand against GBV.
“The truth of the matter is that we also have GBV in sport but the unfortunate part is that it is not being reported,” she regretted.
“As journalists, we should also stand up to report on these cases to show that GBV is everywhere,” Sibanda added.
On why GBV in sport is not widely reported, Sibanda pointed out that it is difficult as there is never readiness and preparedness to speak out.
She said there is a need also encourage athletes or anyone in sport to speak out in order for the issue be addressed.
“I have been listening and following cases regarding GBV in sports and in particular listening to Game Mothibi, Gender activist. She noted that by far only one case has been reported but as it stands, we do not where it is now,” Sibanda said.
She said her wish is for sport to be used as a main tool to fight against GBV. For instance, when there is hosting’s of GBV campaigns a sport representative should be included.
Highlighting that if there be a kgotla meeting in White City, they could take the likes of Mogakolodi ‘Tsotso’ Ngele, who is a well-known sports personality who grew up in the same to address the issue.
She said as a celebrated sports personality, people will be more inclined to listen to him more as compared to a person they do not know.
Sibanda urged that celebrated local athletes from different sporting codes could be used to spread the message even more.
She added that as CAF competitions are on-going now, we should be seizing the opportunity to use its platform to sensitize the community about GBV.
Sibanda said this could be in the form of putting on t-shirts displaying ‘Stop gender-based violence’.
She went on to add that sport is loved by everybody, and if this initiative can be taken seriously surely it will sink in our minds.
“Just imagine before a football game commences and a speech is read by one of the players and the rest of them putting on t-shirts displaying ‘Stop gender-based violence!’ The message would be seen and heard by many including the perpetrators of GBV,” she noted.
In addition, she said the cases are not being reported due to many factors. For a woman being abused by the husband she will not report due to protecting her husband and family at large. But in sport, athletes maybe in fear of reporting GBV because they may not be selected for the team.
“We are in need of a massive public education in sport regarding GBV activities that go on during trainings,” she said.
“We all know the outcomes if athletes deny coaches excess to their bodies. However, because of the love these athletes have for sport, they keep silent as they fear speaking out may be the end of their sporting careers. This should come to an end,” she concluded.
Author of ‘Breaking Barriers: A woman in sport’, Oreeditse Marakakgoro said sport is a powerful tool that can be used not only in GBV but throughout all the ills of society.
“As a country we can adopt the values of Olympism as they can help during these trying times,” she opined.
Marakakgoro said the main aim of the Olympic spirit is to encourage peace and harmony in communities, something she said could be crucial in the fight against societal ills.
In addition, she continued to say the Olympic movement has educational values which can be taught in schools and thrn taken out to our communities. Pointing out that as a teacher they have been extremely impactful.