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Women In Sports – Tsoanelo Pholo

Black women in sports do not receive the recognition they deserve, and as we just celebrated women’s month in August, we want to recognise and celebrate one exceptional woman in sports: Tsoanelo Pholo, a former South African international athlete, and head coach of the South Africa women’s hockey team, guiding them to a commendable 4th place finish in the Hockey5s competition at the Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018. With 25 years of experience in hockey as a player and coach, Pholo has a deep understanding of the sport at a global level. We had the privilege of speaking with Pholo about her journey in hockey and her insights on diversity in sports.

Muzi: You have had a remarkable journey in the sports industry, particularly in your career. Let’s discuss your experience and delve into what you consider to be the highlight of your career.

Coach Pholo: My involvement in sports began at a very young age, coinciding with my ability to walk. Over the course of 40 years, my relationship with sports has been a mixture of love and frustration. My passion for hockey was ignited during my time in high school, and it was an instant connection. Even after 27 years, my love for the sport remains as strong as it was on that very first day. 

Throughout my playing career, I have achieved numerous accolades, including the Junior World Cup, Champions Challenge, Indoor and Outdoor World Cup, and the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. However, the pinnacle of my career is yet to be reached, as I am currently focused on my role as Coach Pholo.

Muzi: Let’s talk about your sports experience as a black woman and explore your perspective on institutional racism and other structural barriers that have historically hindered people of colour and marginalised groups from fully participating and succeeding in various sports activities.

Coach Pholo: I participate in a sport that heavily relies on financial contributions from both players and coaches. Consequently, a significant portion of our nation lacks access to favourable opportunities.

Muzi: What are your thoughts on the issue of hockey being perceived as lacking racial diversity, primarily due to economic barriers associated with participating in the sport? As a black woman, how do we bring or make hockey popular in the black Community?

Coach Pholo: As Coach Pholo Hockey, we are actively engaged in development projects aimed at promoting the sport, which has traditionally been perceived as primarily accessible to individuals of Caucasian descent. Numerous initiatives across the country are dedicated to increasing visibility and facilitating the expansion of hockey.

Muzi: What projects are you currently involved in, and what can we anticipate from Coach Pholo in the coming months?

Coach Pholo: I am currently engaged with Coach Pholo’s coaching services, which encompass personalised 1-on-1 sessions as well as comprehensive 3-day camps. These sessions cover various aspects, including technical skills, nutrition advice, and conditioning training. Additionally, we provide a range of clinics and workshops designed to enhance the growth of hockey in South Africa and internationally. 

Recently, we had the privilege of participating in the World Camp organised by the International Hockey Federation in England. We are thrilled to bring back the knowledge and insights gained from this experience to benefit South Africa. 

Stay tuned for updates on what to expect from Coach Pholo. Exciting developments are on the horizon.

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coachpholo.com

By Muzi Ndziba

Muzi Ndziba | Joburg-based freelance journalist | content creator | Istyleblaq founder

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