Dr Nomafrench Mbombo
Western Cape Minister of Cultural Affairs And Sports
Note: This is the speech that was delivered by Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, at the opening of the SPAR National Netball Championships in Bellville today.
The different provinces represented here, welcome to the Western Cape.
It gives me much pleasure to be here with you today and to officially preside over the opening of such an occasion.
It is also a comfortable coincidence for me that I am opening the Spar National Netball Championship during women’s month.
And not only that but on the wake of Women’s Day.
On Saturday, South Africa commemorated our painful history of segregation and discriminatory laws against the people of this country.
We also celebrated the progress we have made 60 years after the fact and where we are as a country.
Personally, I celebrate the unbreakable and unshakable spirit of the women of 1956 who did not sit at home while the country burned.
They did not relegate the responsibility of liberating the country to their husbands, their brothers and fathers.
They took to the streets in their numbers to show the Apartheid government and the world that their rights were human rights too.
While the progress of South Africa is commendable and the growth of our young democracy is something we ought to take pride in- we should not forget what the demonstration of those women who marched to the Union Buildings meant.
They were saying:
We will not be denigrated to a life of indignity
We will not raise our children in an equal society where the colour of your skin determines your trajectory in life.
We will not sit back and turn a blind eye to the patriarchal attitude of misogyny that influenced the way women were treated in their own communities, in their own country.
Whichever school of thought you subscribe to, 1956 was a turning point not only for the country but for women too.
Here we have hundreds of women hailing from every corner of this country and descending upon the Western Cape to fly their flags high.
Here we have women who live in a country where the possibilities are endless.
Here we have women who possess the kind of discipline and determination one needs to play a competitive sport. But you also have women who are here pursuing their dreams.
I say to you all, half the battle is won.
You have managed to play your hearts out to get here. You have managed to sacrifice hours of your time to hone your skill in order for you to be here today.
Now the challenge that exists is to play like a team. Play extremely hard. Represent not only your teams but your provinces too. And remember to have fun while doing it.
These kind of opportunities exists so that we may begin to see more and more women in sport taking their place on the international stage and flying the South African flag high.
Remember that this event is attended by 39 regions, 44 teams and 800 players and officials from across the country.
This also serves as a platform for development in terms of selecting squads who will later be invited for trials in a battle for national teams.
The Western Cape is a happy host of the Spar National Championship. We support its vision and goal.
The National Championship are a platform for young women from different regions from the country to display their talents and attract opportunities for development.
This function is most certainly not misaligned with the work of my department.
The Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport dedicates most of its budget to Sport Development. We are of the firm belief that in fact sport can be a useful tool on the road of reconciliation and redress.
We also believe that sport plays a crucial role as a national unifier and facilitates social cohesion in ways that people cannot even begin to imagine.
As a department, it is the mandate we have been given by the National Development Plan- to use the work that we do to achieve social inclusion.
That is why we are proud supporters of the National Championships- because they have a role to play in developing players from every corner and every region of the country.
The Western Cape and specifically DCAS has a vision of a “netball revolution”.
That is why the sport if played fiercely in our MOD centres- which are after school facilities for young people.
We support netball at school sport level as well as club development level.
That is why we have various tournaments that we support- not only for the competition, but for developing the sport code and giving young ones opportunities to be at the Spar National Championships one day.
We also provide massive support for our players participating in the championships to get them to the games and to provide them with the necessary financial support to be the best players they can be.
We have funded our various teams to partake in national tournaments and provided the requisite support by facilitating training courses for the sports administrators and technical officials.
We have hosted provincial netball tournaments and worked hard to ensure that we build and develop the correct infrastructure in the West Coast region.
Netball is one of the most popular sport played by women across the world.
South Africa is pretty good at the game too- if we rank 6th around the globe and 1st on the continent, I would say we have lots to be proud of.
And so ladies and gentlemen, as we celebrate women’s month- let us be mindful of the strides we have made and the opportunities at your disposal.
The Mangaung Metro as defending champions must watch out for Team Western Cape who have home-ground advantage.
Competition will be tough, but that’s how it is meant to be.
Good luck to the players and well done to all the couches for getting your teams this far.
Happy Women’s Month and remember, the ball is in your court!