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Women’s Month: Samantha Pennells

Currently, I am the MEL manager for Altus Sport. I have been with Altus Sport for the past 7 years and
absolutely LOVE making the change in our disadvantaged communities, especially empowering young
girls, youth, and woman. I mainly train our youth sports leaders to go back into their communities to
deliver the programs as well as handling all monitoring & evaluation for Altus Sport. We focus on S4D
which includes life skills through sport skills. We currently work with over 9000 mixed gender participants throughout Gauteng. I am also a professional Clay Target Shooting athlete. It is not a well-known sport
throughout Africa but excessively big in the United States and Europe. Clay target shooting is a shooting sport involving shooting a firearm at special flying targets known as clay targets.

That’s easy – coaching and mentoring people. I get excited to see people grow and experience
greatness within themselves. Developing people isn’t easy and at most, I learn more about myself at
the same time – from them. This works in all aspects of my work life, sports life, and personal life.
Talking about experiences is the key to improving yourself and everyone around you. The funny thing
is you never know you are making difference. That…that is the motivation!This is a difficult question because I have taught myself not to be as great as someone but to be myself
and have my own greatness (no expectations ) both my mom and dad would equally be my role
models. My dad because he taught me no matter what, you have to get back and get back to the
grindstone. You can’t stay down! When I was a child he used to tell me all the time “if you want to
walk with big dogs, don’t cry like a puppy) and that saying has always stuck in my head when I felt like
not getting up. My mom would just make sure that I follow my dreams and be adventurous. Not to
settle for anything less because there is so much more out there than what you have in front of you.
My mom & dad were my greater supporters at all my sports game from athletics, netball, cricket and
shooting and that support structure I had was one of the most important things a child could have.

Obviously, one should say broadcasting and media but there is a much deeper thinking around this.
Firstly, cultural barriers to gender norms have been around for 1000’s of years and is still highly active
in our society in the year 2021. Something like “woman belong in the kitchen and not on a sports
field.” This concludes to then when woman do play sports, society thinks that it won’t be as interesting
as when men play. In reality, women are to blame as well because we don’t value female athletes
ENOUGH as much as we do male athletes.

Male athletes need to raise their voice! Male athletes have a substantial amount of coverage,
sponsors etc. If male athletes can create awareness around women in sport – it will reach a bigger
target market. Gender equality in sport is a massive drive at the moment and once people realize
that men are equal to women – there will be more female athletes role models due to increased
visibility from men.Best advice I have ever received – KEEP YOUR EXCPECATIONS LOW!! Life is all about managing
expectations—most of all your own. The world and people around you, especially your close family &
friends will expect many things from you. And you will expect many things in return. The key is to manage its expectations of you—and yours of it. Going through life trying to live up to someone else’s expectations of you is how you end up disappointing both of you in the process. Conversely, trying to force the world to meet your expectations is like trying to row backwards.

Being in a male dominant sport, started shooting at 7 years old, receiving my 1st Protea National Colours
aged 15, then again at 16, 17, 18, 21 & 26 in 2 different disciplines – don’t see your sport as competing in the lady’s division. Make sure that when you compete, you compete against the whole male & female division because that will not only improve your quality in the sport that you do but men will soon realize that you too can beat them in the same sport and in their discipline. Don’t settle for anything less than improving yourself. COMPETE WITH EVERYONE!! Believe me it works!

Sport isn’t a game – it’s a lifestyle! If I knew that when I was a kid and what a person can achieve
through sport, I would have taken it more seriously. I realized that too late in my life and lost a lot of
opportunities. I’m not saying don’t have fun but when you are blessed with a rare talent, make the
most of it.

There are so many!! I am striving to create a space whereby both men and women have equal opportunities in the sports industry. Hopefully, one day we won’t have men’s and women disciplines but rather one discipline whereby all can compete equally. Mixed gender sports becoming more common around the world but there isn’t enough exposure. This sports space will truly reflect FAIRPLAY throughout sports and in life. Maybe this won’t happen in my lifetime but at least I know that I am one of the thousands fighting towards gender equality. And where do I start?? I start at grassroots level so that these kids can grow up knowing that there is no difference in sports.

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