Girls join the boy’s soccer club

Date: January 1, 1970
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This article profiles Lombuso Taongai, Chief Operations Officer of the Premier League of Swaziland (PLS). Uninhibited by the macho image of soccer in Swaziland and with no soccer background, Taongai applied for the job and got it. She wants to see Swazis, especially women, take advantage of the 2010 opportunities.

This article may be used to:
1. Illustrate gender aware reporting in media
2. Show that there has been a shift in the roles associated with women and men with both sexes venturing into traditional ‘no go areas’
3. Show that soccer reporting has evolved to include women.
4. Illustrate the fact that media is now more receptive to women in sport and soccer in particular.
Trainer’s notes
While this is a gender aware article that profiles a woman who has taken a top post in the Premier League of Swaziland, the headline that goes with the story drives across a different message. By saying that ‘girls join the boy’s soccer club’ the article implies that soccer is a strictly male activity that women are joining. Clearly this is not the case as there are women’s leagues for every sport, though they are not as well-recognised as men’s. Traditionally, soccer and sport has been seen as a male domain, with men’s leagues garnering more media attention, and women’s leagues seen as less serious or professional. The headline then also indicates that this sentiment is changing, and women in sport are now being welcomed.
This article manages to dispel notions and stereotypes around women’s participation in sport. Lombuso Taongai is not doing admin work as would be expected of a woman in a ‘male’ domain, but she is the Chief Operations Officer. This article also demystifies soccer and presents it as something that women and men alike can take part in. To encourage other women to take part in sport, the article quotes Ncamsile Mkhonta, who works at the Premier Soccer League administration office, saying Swazi women should erase the mentality that the soccer scene is for men.
The article is careful not to present women’s work in this field as a walk in the park. It highlights that some women often have to work extra hard to have their opinions respected, whereas men are often taken seriously immediately. The sourcing in the story is balanced with both men and women commenting on what women bring to the sports fraternity.
Discussion questions
1. Ask participants what they think of the story’s headline.
2. How are women and men portrayed in the story?
3. What does the article say about the roles of women and men in society?
4. Has there been a shift in the way that women in sport are viewed in society?
5. Do you think the media has a responsibility to report more on women in sport and encourage female sports journalists and professionals?
Training Exercises
1. Speak to sports journalists about their reporting on women in sport. Why do stories about men’s leagues and male coaches and sport professionals dominate? Have they tried to cover women’s sporting events? How do their editors receive these ideas? What types of sport are reported on for women?
2. Compare the sports section in several different newspapers over a period of at least 1 week. How many articles focus on women? How many articles are by female journalists? What types of articles contain women or women’s leagues? Are some newspapers better at reporting on women than others? Why do you think this is? Is a female journalist more likely to report on women? Why or why not?
Links to other training resources

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