Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) awards a GLAD[1] to GroundUp for its story that not only celebrates children’s achievements but also highlights the importance of breaking gender barriers.

“Soweto’s girls and boys play competitive soccer together” (GroundUp, 24/10/2019) by Mosa Damane is a story about the inclusion of girl soccer players in the Orlando East Local Football Association league. The story highlights the experiences of 11-year-old Paballo Tshabala, a defender; 12-year-old Lindiwe Mazibuko, a midfielder and team captain; 15-year-old striker, Thando Williams and a few other girls who play in the league dominated by boys. The article is accompanied by beautiful close-up pictures of three young female soccer players in the league, among them, Thando Williams.

The girls got to express their experience playing among boys.  Fifteen-year-old Nomafuza Bulane is quoted speaking of her experience and addressing an important issue facing South Africa of gender-based violence and inequality, “We are supposed to treat each other equally, and there shouldn’t be any difference between female and male … My teammates treat me with respect and dignity. I’ve never felt harassed or experienced any form of violence and abuse.”  

This article truly highlights how gender barriers can be broken within soccer leagues, inspiring other young children who read this story to be motivated and to see no boundary when it comes to participating in sports.

Another child, Thando Williams is quoted saying, “The tempo of the game is high, but I’ve never worried about my gender since I work as hard as other players in the game.”

By accessing these children, Mosa Damane adhered to The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) in article 7[2] which states that, “Every child who is capable of communicating his or her own views shall be assured the rights to express his opinions freely in all matters and to disseminate his opinions subject to such restrictions as are prescribed by law.” South Africa ratified the ACRWC in 2000.

According to MMA’s Editorial Guidelines and Principles for Reporting on Children in the Media,[3] journalists should avoid gender stereotypes about children particularly challenging the roles girls and boys occupy in coverage. MMA’s research[4] has found that girls tend to be featured more in stories about abuse, while boys feature more in stories about sports and achievements. GroundUp not only challenged these gender stereotypes but also highlighted the roles of girls in the sports field of soccer and hit a balance of promoting these genders in an even manner.

MMA would like to commend GroundUp and reporter, Mosa Damane for accessing children and challenging gender stereotypes. We hope to read more of these articles in the future.

By Nomshado Lubisi

[1] A GLAD is awarded to an article that reports about children in a positive way


[3] (see pg 10)