Yesterday Temba Bavuma became the first ever black South African to score a century in Test Cricket. A special moment for Bavuma, and an historic achievement. But amidst the celebratory headlines, there’s a nagging question:
What’s taken so long?
Twenty one years ago, Nelson Mandela donned a Springboks shirt and presented Francois Pienaar with the Rugby World Cup. Apartheid had ended four years previously, South Africa had its first black president, and now South African sport was on the world stage, Mandela showing us how sport could lead the way in redressing the balance and striving for equality. A seminal moment – but a seminal moment that was twenty one years ago.
Women’s sport is currently on an upwards trajectory. Whilst parity with its male counterpart is, in the majority of sports, still a distant dream, in recent times we’ve seen some excellent examples of increased media coverage (the BBC showed every match of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup live) and increasing professionalisation (the ECB took the bold step of awarding central contracts to 18 female players in 2014). Organisations such as Women in Sport are working hard to increase the visibility of women’s sport and promote equal opportunities, and on the participation side of things, Sport England’s award-winning ‘This Girl Can’ campaign is aimed at reducing the gap in participation and promoting opportunities for women to get involved in sport. People are beginning to really talk about women’s sport.