CGA Athlete's Indaba works towards creating new girls athletics academy
Central Gauteng Athletics' Athete's Commission Chairperson Zongamele Dyubeni has revealed that plans are afoot to create a girls development programme that will one day grow into a fully fledged academy. Concerned by this lack of elite female performers, Dyubeni and his team hosted an Athlete's Indaba this weekend (Saturday 20 November at the Germiston Stadium) to discuss some of the challenges facing coaches and administrators as they struggle to keep girls in the sport beyond their high school years.
"As CGA Athlete's Commission we sat down after realising that the performance of CGA athletes is going down nationally," he said during an interview with #TheTopRunner. "Then we decided to call an Athlete's Indaba to hear from athlete's themselves to hear what it is that they are struggling with besides Covid. We called the coaches, athletes and club administrators so we can discuss how we can help as The Commission," explained the man who represented South Africa at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka, Japan and is a former winner of the Pick 'n Pay marathon.
"The purpose of the workshop was to find out the root cause of the problem but also the ineffectiveness of our female athletes," he elaborated. Just five of the 34 member athletics team that took part in the recent Tokyo 2021 Olympics were women, underlining Dyubeni's concern. And to make matters worse for CGA, none of those 2021 female athletics Olympians were from CGA.
Commonwealth Games silver medalist Geraldine Pillay-Viret was in attendance and she spent some time talking to the coaches and sharing part of her own story. The Olympian sprinter emphasized the importance of training overseas, saying the time she spent in the United States and Jamaica were important steps in allowing her to realise her dream of becoming world beater. 7-time national steeplechase champion and African Championships bronze medalist Tebogo Masehla was also present and shared a similar message highlighting the need for better support structures to develop female athletes.
"The problem that we are facing is the facilities. The coaches cried about the facilities in the township, that they don't have facilities to train. We are going to have a sub-committee or an ad hoc committee that is going to talk individually to these athletes. Then we are going to look for sponsorship and try to launch something of an academy where we choose eight to ten female athletes that we can try to support," he said.
Dyubeni's proposal will first need to be approved by the board of the provincial athletics federation before this girls development squad can take off. So in the interim the CGA Athlete's Commission will continue talking to those in the know about how to solve this problem. "What we decided is that early next year, maybe in February we will call a huge Indaba to continue where we left off," he concluded.