Editorial: Let’s Level The Playing Field (And Everything Else As Well)

Myolisi Gophe, 07 November 2020

In September the Brazilian Football Federation (CBF) announced that their women’s soccer team would receive the same pay as their male counterparts – a decision met with applause around the globe, and one that was perhaps long overdue.

The South American football powerhouse is not the first country to offer equal daily rates and prize money to athletes on national duty, irrespective of their sex. Countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Norway and England, among others, are also walking the talk – to some extent – in bridging the gap between men and women.

But such a move is still pie in the sky for many local sports. 

A lot of ground has been gained over the years to treat men and women equally, but there’s still a long way to go. The glaring differences in paychecks – especially in bigger sports such as football, rugby and cricket – are there for all to see. Women play as hard as their male counterparts, and even outshine them at times – but they don’t see the same rewards for their efforts.

As rumours started making the rounds in October that the South African National Football Association (SAFA) had entered into a sponsorship agreement with the Multi-Choice Group (MCG) – weeks after the company had announced a multi-million rand deal with the Premier Soccer League – some assumed that the contract would be for the National Women’s League. Such assumptions were off the mark. The new SAFA-MCG partnership is for the referees.

But who should be blamed for this? Should we continue to point fingers at the male-dominated federation leadership? Or the corporate sector for its reluctance to back women sportspeople? Society in general?

Perhaps it’s high time that women – and all those who support equality in sport – use their power in influencing consumer decisions and stop supporting brands that are not willing to support women athletes. Maybe that will force the hands of the decision makers to rethink their strategies when it comes to sponsorships and seriously consider women athletes as attractive and important role-players.

In the meantime, we’ll do our bit to highlight some of the many amazing women in sport: media personalities like football commentator Khangelwa Bomvana (page 8), academics like Prof Mmaki Jantjies and Dr Simone Titus (page 16), activists like Cheryl Roberts (page 26), and even top achievers like Banyana coach Desiree Ellis and her fellow Gsport award winners (page 30). These are women whose stories deserve to be told – and who inspire others, men and women alike, to achieve even greater heights. 

We hope you’ll be inspired…and maybe we’ll get to tell your story some day as well.

Thanks for stopping by. Enjoy the read, okay?