Netballers show their stuff

Electric energy filled Kensington High School’s field and court as young women displayed their athletic abilities recently­.

Organised by Play Sport4Life (PS4L), the first annual Women’s Day Sport Festival and Celebration was a momentous success for women’s sports awareness and development in the Western Cape, says the organisation’s spokesperson, Connor Walsh.

“What may have been the largest women’s youth sports gathering shows promise in leading the way for women’s sports growth. The energy was electric across Kensington High School’s field and court with a tremendous amount of athletic ability displayed for everyone’s enjoyment,” says Walsh.

PS4L’s team and programme manager, Carolyn Inglis, spearheaded the event.

There were eight primary schools, seven high schools, five academies and eight clubs present – a total of 25 netball and 24 soccer teams. Teams from Hout Bay to Khayelitsha and everywhere in between joined in the festival­.

The games ran from 09:30 to 16:00, followed by speeches from guests including Gail Reid from PS4L’s board of directors, ward councillor Helen Jacobs, Comrades runner Soraya Salie, and South African Olympian Geraldine Pillay. They inspired the young athletes with words of motivation and encouragement.

According to Walsh, the festival was meant to be more of a celebration of women’s accomplishments and a means to combat gender inequality than an actual tournament. “But that didn’t stop teams from becoming highly competitive in the single knockout elimination day. The three age divisions of u.12, u.14 and u.17 fielded teams for both five-a-side soccer and seven-a-side netball,” Walsh enthuses.

People from the surrounding communities came out in droves to support their teams while having fun. “PS4L has worked wonders in youth sports development across the Western Cape. Sponsoring, supporting and organising events is our mission and passion. Our focus on women’s empowerment through sport has opened new avenues for positive impact in our communities in an untouched way,” Walsh explains.

The Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport and the City of Cape Town sponsored the event and provided food for all the athletes and coaches.

Walsh says the two major sponsors share PS4L’s dream of ending all gender inequality­.

The stars on the soccer field – u.12 Ikasi Soccer School, u.14 Safa and u.17 Brooklyn Sport and Development, took first-place medals and the first annual PS4L’s Women’s Day Sport Festival award. Yet, the stars of the day were on the netball court.

Nosiphiwo Mbolambi of Philippi coached all three teams of her netball club, Ithemba Labantu, to a championship victory.

Inglis lamented the lack of opportunities, support, encouragement and recognition for women in sport, pointing out that female athletes and coaches have made enormous strides but that sexist attitudes still exist.

“Women in sport deserve the same recognition on an off the sports field as our male counterparts,” she said.

PS4L founder Miles October commended Inglis for producing “one of our best events to date”.