From Cleats To Heels - Women In Sports In Namibia

12 May 2019 11:40am
By Marco Ndlovu

WINDHOEK, 12 MAY (NAMPA) – From cleats to heels, from muddy shorts to cocktail dresses and hard body hits to loving motherly hands – all in a matter of seconds.
This is how easy it is for women to balance sports and life, says Christel Kotze, an ardent rugby and football player.
Kotze grew up playing these male-dominated sports, and would usually draw one or two negative comments.
“I guess one could say it’s because they (men) felt intimidated. My male friends on the other hand loved it when the opposition doubted me and my capabilities, using me as a secret weapon, if you like,” she says.
The sports journalist for the national broadcaster (NBC), however, still gets negative comments from time to time.
“In Africa, there is a typical view from society that if a woman plays a male-dominated sport she is not a woman! This is absolutely absurd!”
Her statements are in line with the International Olympic Committee statutes that say sport is one of the most powerful platforms for promoting gender equality and empowering women and girls, and that sports coverage is very influential in shaping norms and stereotypes of women/girls and men/boys.
Radio and television sports personality, Joviita Kandjumbwa agrees about its reach, saying it helped her find herself.
“I always wanted to be a lawyer but as fate would have it, I found myself in the media. I was in my first year of media studies at university and wondering what my place in the media would be. I knew I wanted it to be different from the norm,” she says.
After four years in the industry, Kandjumbwa has not looked back and loves every moment, especially because her male colleagues in the sports media industry have been helpful.
“When I am wrong they correct me and offer great support and I can always count on them. They can be a bit too critical as well, but I guess I cannot expect just compliments all the time,” she notes.
Watching the 2014 International Federation of Association Football (Fifa) World Cup Finals and seeing South Africa’s Carol Tshabalala presenting the World Cup in Brazil, Kandjumbwa immediately knew she wanted to be a sportscaster.
Her biggest highlight so far was being an analyst for NBC during the 2018 Fifa World Cup.
“It was a dream come true, especially getting to cover the final. The low would have to be being turned down so many times by various media institutions whom I approached, and being overlooked more times than I can remember,” she adds.
The 23-year-old presenter says her family is very supportive of her chosen career.
She advises women to explore the option of going into sport, not just in media but as administrators, coaches, referees, athletes and more.
Kandjumbwa says it is a huge untapped market and women have the potential to grow not only women’s sport, but sport in general.
She feels strongly that there is a lot women can do, “they just need to identify the area that would suit them best and run with it”.
Kandjumbwa believes the future is bright not only for Namibian women, but for African women in general.
“We are seeing so many women locally and internationally making major waves in sport as well as sponsorships returning to women’s sport. So, it is a great time for women to capitalise on these opportunities,” she advises.
Namibia Football Association Women’s Desk Administrator Jackey Gertze says football gave her opportunities to travel the world to gain education and guidance to plough back into her country.
“It kept me healthy. I could have fallen for the many ugly temptations in my life as a young sportswoman, but I simply cared a lot about my health, education and to make life better for my parents, hence I turned to sport,” Gertze explains.
One of her biggest achievements is helping to introduce the Galz & Goals programme for young girls.
Jo-Anne Manuel, Deputy Director: Marginalised People and Women in Sport at the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service, says women are their worst enemies.
She says the biggest challenge affecting women’s sport is that “women who make it, start focusing on the personalities of fellow colleagues instead of focusing on what matters”.
She also says there is a need for gender-responsive budgets within sport.
“If you look at what male football gets versus what the women’s desk gets, you will be shocked,” she says.
Manuel, who has been involved in sport and administration for over 20 years dating back to her primary, high school and university days, called on authorities to build sport facilities in the townships and rural areas, and for corporate companies to come on board as Government alone cannot provide for sport.
Another local journalist, Limba Mupetami says there is a lot of room for growth and expansion, and every day is a learning curve.
The former footballer says women face many challenges in sport, including remuneration.
“There is a barrel of sexism at times. When it comes to high-level debates regarding performances of athletes, certain individuals assume women cannot hold their own and are clueless about topics,” she says.
She adds that the likes of Helalia Johannes locally and Serena Williams internationally continue to prove people wrong by their level of success.
Mupetami wants the current policies governing sports to change for the better.
“Let us challenge the status quo. Let’s speak out, but let us continue to be the best and let our work speak for itself,” she says.