For the vast majority of girls in South Africa, finding safe places to play sports can be hard to come by. Violence is a huge issue for all South Africans, but for girls and women – over a third of whom have reported being victims of gender based violence at least once in their lifetime – the situation is even more dire.
That’s why PeacePlayers South Africa started the Girls’ Basketball Festival (Girls’ Fest). Beyond providing a safe place to play and be themselves, Girls’ Fest is also a place where girls are celebrated and supported – where girls are exposed to opportunities that – in a society plagued by extreme racial and gender inequity – they are often marginalized from.
The 5th annual Girls’ Fest, hosted at UKZN Howard College in Durban in partnership with Nivea and Nivea Sun on August 26, brought together 200 high school girls, coaches and volunteers from PeacePlayers’ core programs, as well as three guest teams who got a chance to experience the PeacePlayers energy first hand.
This was the final installment of three major events that PeacePlayers hosted with Nivea and Nivea Sun. The theme of this year’s festival was “celebrating and empowering girls and women as leaders – on and off the court,” in commemoration of National Women’s Month, and included a holistic program of guest speakers, a basketball tournament (and you can watch the full games here), life skills activities, health & wellness workshops, and lunch. And the event made good on its goal of exposing girls to opportunities – The Central University of Technology from Bloemfontein showed up to scout players for their women’s basketball team, recognizing that PeacePlayers girls possess both the athletic talent and the content of character that make for excellent students, players and citizens. We appreciate the Central University of Technology in Bloemfontein for being a part of our event, and welcome other universities and colleges to join us in the future!
Another way Girls’ Fest exposed young women to opportunity was to create an encounter with South African Women who are success exemplified, including Siza Ntombela, Head of Shopper and Consumer Marketing at Beiersdorf, Simangele Mathibela, Black Media Pride and CFG, CEO, and Nomusa Zungu, Human Rights Commission/Podcaster, Legal Consultant. What was perhaps most significant about this encounter was that these women came from similar backgrounds and the girls in the audience. They didn’t start out in life with opportunity laid out before them. They, like the participants at Girls’ Fest, were born into an unequal society and had to create opportunity for themselves. This sentiment was echoed in the words of panelist Simangele Mathibela: “Be intentional, support each other and take yourself seriously, because if we don’t, no one will.”
Although the spotlight was on girls, women and imagining a more prosperous, equal future, PeacePlayers boys were there, too, to cheer on and support the girls. That’s how you make change – by creating allies. At PeacePlayers, we’re growing a generation of girls who know what they’re worth, and a generation of boys who understand that a safe and prosperous future for girls in South Africa means a safer and more prosperous future for everyone.
Girls’ Fest attracted a lot of attention from the greater KwaZulu-Natal area, including the Berea Mail, which featured an article on the event. Check it out on the right:
Special Thanks to additional partners who make the day possible:
1) 21st Century Funerals – R10,000 donation, 2) KwikSpar- Blair Atholl – Lunch Donation, 3) Ferrero – Chocolates, 4) Move Africa – Menstrual Cups, 5) Wicked Donuts – Donuts, 8) eThekwini Basketball Association and KZN Wheelchair Basketball – Digital scoreboards, 7) SuperSport Schools – livestreaming all games of the App and website
1) Congratulations to the Pietermaritzburg Girls High School for winning 1st place and becoming 5th Girls’ Fest Champions, PeacePlayers Aces for 2nd place.
2) Phethenhle Monatisa from Port Shepstone High School for winning the Spirit Award
3) Zemvelo Phewa Pietermaritzburg Girls High School for winning the PeacePlayers Way Award.
***This list excludes other prize winners who received prizes throughout the day.
Thank you to all the Board Members, Staff, Coaches, Donors, Volunteers and Schools and guests that showed up to support us UNITE, EDUCATE and INSPIRE youth from diverse community backgrounds through the POWER of sport!