With the movement having highlighted long-running concerns around transformation in sport, Stormers coach John Dobson says it’s important to address issues raised by Black Lives Matter, but he feels it’s just as crucial to include everyone in the conversation to
protect the unity within his squad.
Having recently resumed training, in the build-up to an expected return to competition next month, Dobson said they were holding sessions to educate the players on a wide-ranging set of views.
“We are trying to be pro-active and educate our players because we have a great, diverse and unified squad,” Dobson said.
Hundreds of athletes and coaches had voiced their support for BLM, claiming equality had still not been achieved in SA sport some three decades after unity, with only a minority taking a vocal stance against the movement.
The debate was reignited last week, however, when sports minister Nathi Mthethwa apparently instructed the SA Rugby Union to seek clarity on why eight South African players had not taken a knee with teammates ahead of English Premiership matches, despite the
players wearing anti-racism t-shirts.
Though he admitted it was a “polarising issue”, Dobson believed they needed to allow individuals to express their personal views in their own ways without disrupting their preparation for the upcoming campaign.
“We do not want to disturb the harmony in our squad, so we have brought in outside facilitators to educate the players on why some take certain decisions and others not,” he said.
“We might not ever get the perfect unity, but we might find a mid-way point.”
The nation’s controversial past made discussions around race, equality and freedom of expression additionally challenging, Dobson admitted, but he said the Stormers would continue to search for middle ground in order to move forward as a team.
“I don’t want to short-cut the issue, as we want to see how close we can get ourselves to finding the proper answers by way of education.”