Late Cheryl Roberts described as courageous and driven

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Tributes continue to pour in from sporting and political quarters following the death in Cape Town of the sports activist, journalist, and writer, Cheryl Roberts.

The 60-year-old had her sporting roots in the anti-apartheid movement of the South African Council on Sport (Sacos) and later Sascoc.

She died on Friday following a long battle with cancer.

Roberts is described as courageous, brave, and driven by truth in all her work and sporting engagements.

The three-time table tennis champion was passionate about women’s sports and transformation. She represented South Africa in table tennis during the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain.

Through her writings and social media platforms, she did not mince her words in advocating for transformation and improvement in women’s sports.

This stage of her life was preceded by sports unity talks fighting the race-based sporting codes of that time.

Her friend and author Clement du Plessis says grassroots sport, politics of sport, and transformation were her passion

“She gave Sascoc more hell than credit and that was Cheryl. What she stood for in Sascoc is what she stood for in the new dispensation, fairness was one of her cornerstones. She was about fairness and justice, even if it was the national sports congress, that principled stance she took with her wherever she went, and that stands out in Cheryl’s life. That is part of her legacy,” says du Plessis.

She studied at UCT, and her first book on sport and transformation was written and published before she turned 20.

A fight she took on more fiercely later in her professional life.

Du Plessis says she was fighting not only for women as athletes but that they occupy meaningful and influential positions within the sporting codes.

A lone battle

Du Plessis adds, “Who is going to fill that void with Cheryl is not there? In telling she fought publicly a lone battle certainly with the publications she fought a lone battle. Who’s going to replace Cheryl Roberts in fulfilling this critical gap in South African sport? And that is the question that remains unanswered we speak.”

Sports Minister, Nathi Mthethwa, in a statement says her drive and enthusiasm will be sorely missed.

Cricket SA CEO, Pholetsi Moseki, says the sporting fraternity has lost a staunch fighter for women’s representation across various sporting codes including cricket. Roberts will be buried on Tuesday at West Street Cemetery in Durban.