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Women’s Month: Marlene Coetzee-George

I was recently appointed as the CEO for Laureus South Africa. I work with a small but dynamic team of specialists and as a collective we drive all aspects of the sport for good business under the auspices of Laureus South Africa.

The prospect that my daily work may result in a young person, challenged by disadvantage, violence and discrimination, receiving a step up in life because of the power of sport. I am also motivated by the opportunities that I may have to motivate younger women on their road to success to persevere beyond the dark patches in the middle of the tunnel to the blinding light at the end of the tunnel.

My mother. At the age of almost 91 she has to push through tough patches of pain and discomfort every day. Yet, every day she gets up and gives life another chance. A number of the principles I apply in my leadership and mentorship journey has been, inspired by her unintentional yet lasting way of inculcating life learnings. There are Afrikaans phrases that refrains in my head that I heard as a young girl and back then they were just “se goed” (sayings); However, upon reflection of those “se goed” as an adult, I realised how much wisdom were laced in them. A very recent conversation with my mom about the daily reality of death, just reminded me why her life inspires me so much. She’s the last one standing in her family as all her siblings have passed, she is the oldest adult at her place of worship and at 90 still manages her own financial affairs. She’s not perfect but she’s phenomenal!

I can only comment on this question based on what I have heard from those who I have engaged with that played professional sport. The view is that women’s sport have always been a few yards behind men’s sport when it comes to the allocation of funding. The same level of effort was not necessarily met with the same level of investment. It is very difficult to achieve the levels of visibility comparable with male sport without the financial resources required. So in my mind the issue is one of a lack of parity in the allocation of resources, but this I must admit has been informed by other women in sport as that was not my path of exposure on the journey to leadership.

Male athletes can support by visibly and audibly applauding the achievements of women in sport. At women in sport conferences it is often women addressing women, maybe there are men out there who would be prepared to add their voice the cadre of women and be willing to help address the issues on a motivational, strategic and policy level.

No journey is ever travelled in vain, from Morne’ as advise from his dad

Steady pace wins the race, from Phatho Zondi.

Be patient, the wheels of opportunity in sport may turn slow at best, but if you remain diligent and connected to your cause, your breakthrough will eventually come. If you lack patience, cultivate it or else this journey may result in frustration and not fulfilment. 

Be brave enough to push the boundaries of your insecurities sooner, else it will keep you from embracing great opportunities that comes up along the way.

To be become known as a leader who retains and attracts the best talent in her team, because she connects them with their passion, that happens to be their job.

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