07 August 2020 | Story Jóhann Thormählen | Photo Varsity Sports
Shindré-Lee Simmons, Kovsies’ women’s hockey captain, has represented South Africa at U21 level and has been playing for the UFS for five years.

It is time to unite and stand up against gender-based violence (GBV) to address and eradicate this scourge in society. This is the strong message from female athletes of the University of the Free State (UFS) in a month where the focus will be on women. As South Africa commemorates Women’s Day on 9 August 2020, the UFS shines a spotlight on women, calling on all South Africans to challenge, fight, and eradicate all forms of gender-based violence.

Speaking out against GBV, UFS sport stars Sne Mdletshe, Lynique Beneke, Shindré-Lee Simmons, Kesa Molotsane, Casey-Jean Botha, Lefébre Rademan, and Noxolo Magudu have partnered with KovsieSport in condemning any form of violence against women. They added their voices to a video campaign aimed at raising awareness of violence against women. The campaign involves athletes, coaches, administrators, and alumni, and consists of a series of videos that will be featured on UFS platforms.

Increasing impact 

 Mdletshe, Kovsies’ netball captain, is one of the sports stars featured   in the first video of the series. She says it is crucial to address GBV. “We need to tackle it head on, because we cannot carry on like this.”

UFS Olympic long jumper, Lynique Beneke, says GBV needs attention, as it will only get worse if not addressed seriously. “This has been breeding for decades, where it’s acceptable or often justified.

Kovsie long jumper, Lynique Beneke, is in the South African Olympic squad and
will be in contention to take part in her 
second Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2021.
Photo: Hannes Naude

Shindré-Lee Simmons, Kovsies’ women’s hockey captain, says it is important to be frank about GBV in South Africa, “as its prevalence has had an increasing impact on families and the country”

Influence of sport

Godfrey Tenoff, Head of the KovsieSport GBV campaign, says the video campaign will be a continuous project for Kovsiesport, as GBV is a threat to everyone, including UFS sportsmen and sportswomen. “This is specifically crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sport will be an integral part of our strategy to highlight and eventually eradicate gender-based violence."

Unique platform

Simmons says it is crucial for sports stars to use the platform they have to address the issue and educate others.

“We as athletes have the platform to speak up and people will listen,” says Mdletshe.

Sne Mdletshe, KovsieSport Junior Sportswoman of 2019, was appointed captain of the
Kovsies netball team in 2020. S
he is also the captain of the Baby Proteas.
Photo: Varsity Sports

According to Beneke, sport can promote change. “We are uniquely positioned to support and model healthy relationships, values, and norms that can reduce and end gender-based violence.

Watch the first video, called ‘Enough’, as part of the KovsieSport campaign against GBV.

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