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'We need to afford each other the same opportunities to excel': Tendai Mtawarira on transformation in sport

28 July 2020 - 09:26 By Unathi Nkanjeni
Retired Springbok legend Tendai Mtawarira adds his voice on transformation in sport.
Retired Springbok legend Tendai Mtawarira adds his voice on transformation in sport.
Image: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Retired Springbok rugby player Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira has weighed in on Black Lives Matter and transformation in sport.

Mtawarira took to Instagram this week to express his support for former teammate and Springbok captain Siya Kolisi, who also showed his support for the country's top black sportsmen who have opened up about racism in SA sport.

Over the past few weeks, black sportsmen have been throwing their weight behind the Black Lives Matter movement and sharing their stories about racism in sport.

Many, including Proteas cricketer Lungi Ngidi and veteran cricketer Makhaya Ntini, have also called for transformation and shown their support for the Black Lives Matter movement, despite a backlash from other sportsmen.

In his video, Mtawarira said transformation in sport would only come about after the “elephant in the room” was addressed.

“I have a full understanding of how systems in our country have marginalised certain demographics and ethnic groups,” Mtawarira said.

“It’s not easy doubting and second-guessing yourself, not because of your lack of talent and drive but because you do not fall into certain 'acceptable' categories.”

The Zimbabwean-born South African, who played 117 Tests for the Springboks before announcing his retirement last year, said everyone needed to be afforded the same opportunities to excel.

“It’s difficult to come to terms with the fact that you have to put in twice the work to get half the opportunities available. We need to afford each other the same equal opportunities in sport, corporate spaces, schools, and the communities at large. We need also to harness the power of our diversity,” said Mtawarira.

Mtawarira said now was the “pivotal moment” to have uncomfortable conversations that will allow the nation to grow.

“I really feel that, in this time, we're at a crossroads and a pivotal moment where we have to make a decision,” he said.

“There are certain things we might have endured in the past and we have to bring them to light because for us to move forward, we have to address the big elephant in the room.

“We have to bring about those conversations that will bring discomfort to everybody but that will allow us to grow. I feel the decisions that we make today will impact the future of our kids and the next generation.”

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