While netball and women’s soccer have received much attention in recent months, other sportswomen competing in codes such as rugby still fight gender stereotypes.
University of Pretoria student Kemisetso Baloyi (21) is a rising star in the world of rugby, representing the South African Students Rugby Women’s Sevens Team.
The team recently returned from the World University Games in Italy, where they finished in fourth place behind some strong competition.
Born in Soshanguve, Baloyi discovered rugby in 2013, when she was in Grade 10.
“I needed something to do in my free time. A friend at my high school was playing rugby so I asked her a few questions and she invited me to come along to practice. At high school there was only netball available for girls so I went with my friend to the Komuso Youth Rugby Club and found a love for rugby,” said Baloyi.
Baloyi’s love for the sport continued into university, where she was given the opportunity to play for the University of Pretoria while doing her BA Law degree and made the national student’s team.
“Rugby is traditionally viewed as a men’s sport. It’s always either the national men’s teams or the more feminine sports that get attention. Women’s rugby deserves a lot more support in terms of financing.”
Baloyi said that fortunately, the stereotypes are slowly changing and the game is starting to get more exposure.
“We are in a promising stage where women’s rugby is eventually getting more exposure. It is very underdeveloped right now but we are making some great strides in getting our names out there and starting to compete with other countries that better support women’s rugby.
“Rugby is an amazing sport. To the girls out there who want to play rugby – forget about the stereotypes; forget about what people say and think. If you have a passion for it, then just go for it!”
Baloyi is grateful for the opportunities that democracy has provided to young black women such as herself. “Democracy has expanded the whole scope of what we can do. We reach for our goals and achieve our dreams, instead of being stuck in a box. So yes, we can be very thankful for that.”