SA's Moonira Ramathula to be inducted in the sports tourism hall of fame

Moonira Ramathula is one of the women who have been said to be pushing back the frontiers of sports tourism across Africa. She has been selected to be inducted into the prestigious African Sports Tourism Week’s Amazons of Sports Tourism hall of fame on 31 May.

Founder of Futballin Girls Moonira Ramathula. Picture: @MoonsRams/Twitter.

JOHANNESBURG - “I am really honoured and humbled by the opportunity to be inducted into the African Sports Tourism Hall of fame,” said Moonira Ramathula to Eyewitness News.

Ramathula is one of the women who have been said to be pushing back the frontiers of sports tourism across Africa. She has been selected to be inducted into the prestigious African Sports Tourism Week’s Amazons of Sports Tourism hall of fame on 31 May.

“My real first taste of sports tourism was when the airline I worked for was awarded the contract to transport the teams for the 2010 World Cup and was given the opportunity to manage the team logistics of the Durban base with a colleague. It really was an experience of a lifetime, and this prompted me to start a side hustle in 2011 in the form of a travel agency handling local sports teams around the country, needless to say, my side hustle became my business, whereby 90% of my clients are sports organisations or their sports travel around South Africa and the world.”

The hall of fame, which is an offshoot of Travel Gurls Sport Week, African Sports Tourism Week’s CSR initiative, is a collection of women with a positive disposition towards sports tourism and those who – through innovation, creativity and resilience – push back the frontiers of sports tourism in Africa.

“I’ve learned to slow down and take a deep breath, but at the same time, I have learned that I can achieve anything I want to, as long as I’m prepared to work hard for it.

"The hardest lesson of all I learned in the last 12 months is the importance of setting boundaries and sticking to them and that whoever is offended by my boundaries is not my problem but theirs. Also to trust the process and understand that who belongs in your life will always be there and whoever is removed has either served their purpose or never belonged in your life,” said the SR Travels managing director.

The induction ceremony will be conducted by UNICEF Lagos chief field officer Celine Lafoucriere, South African Tourism regional manager (West Africa) Thekiso Rakolojane; LaLiga Global Network Delegate to Nigeria and Ghana, Desmond Chiji; Deputy High Commissioner of South Africa to Nigeria Dr Bobby Moroe and African Tourism Board chairman Cuthbert Ncube Ncube.

“Professionalisation of women sport across is what I want to see happen. Looking at the recent major win for the US Women's team, I would like to see that across all sporting codes for women,” said Ramathula.

She is the founder of Futballin Girls and 1st vice-president of Gauteng Sport. She also served on the team for South Africa FIFA World Cup 2010. She said there are a lot of issues that athletes face but the biggest challenges they face are funding, participation opportunities, access to facilities and psychological assistance.

“I think that government and society must work together to solve the problems, ensuring access to facilities is key in athlete development, society and government should work together to addressing the funding of athletes and access to participation. Not enough is being done to assist athletes psychologically, especially from a young age, psychology plays a major role in athletes' confidence, especially at the highest level.”

The trailblazer was born in Stanger, KwaZulu-Natal and grew up in Pinetown. She took part in various sporting codes from cross country, sprinting and long-distance.

“I also played netball, softball, football and rugby, was very competitive, received provincial colours in athletics activities, also continuously maintained top 10 position in my grades throughout my schooling career.”

In 2015 she formed Futballing Girls, an initiative to recognise women in sports in Gauteng.

The awards were established in 2018 in Ekurhuleni and have since expanded to various districts in Gauteng. She has continually been vocal about the importance of gender equality in sports emphasising that the federations must have equal opportunities and equal pay in competitions.

“I’m 2015 I founded and launched Futballing Girls NPO as an organisation that was going to grant girls an opportunity to play football, whether she has played before or not. However, the organisation quickly transformed into women in sport organisation encompassing all sporting codes, because I soon realised the major gaps and challenges young girls and women face as I wanted to do something about that, I wanted to contribute towards a positive change towards gender equality, Adlai’s help women understand that they should not be limited, but can achieve it all.”

In 2017 Ramathula won a gsport award for volunteer of the year and said this reinforced the need to start women in sports awards at the community level. She also wanted to work toward increasing the number of women in leadership positions within the province.

“I have also developed a few workshops and training programmes for women in sport including Personal Branding and Leadership Skills training for women in sport, which is very important as empowered women understand their value and roles they play in the fight for gender equality.”

The versatile leader firmly believes that the is a need for female coaches at grassroots level and that sports development needs to be taken to the people, especially in rural areas.

“Being hands-on is key because what you have learnt or expletives as an athlete could help and benefit the next generation. It’s also important to be hands-on so you can be part of the decision-making process on matters that directly affect you as an athlete.”

The soon-to-be hall of famer said she still has a lot of projects in the pipeline to help women in sports advance their careers beyond being an athlete.

“In March this year, Spotlight on Women in Sport Digimag was launched which I am the editor of and also took the YouTube show to the next level, which now is a TV Talk Show in Vision View TV, creating voice and visibility opportunities for women in sport.”