Despite having less female students on sports bursaries, participation has increased and steps are being taking to get more women involved.

The number of female students on sports bursaries at Wits has decreased slightly in the last five years, with 29 of the 109 students on sports bursaries being female.

Head of Wits Sport, Adrian Carter, attributes the dwindling numbers to only having one female Varsity Sports team, which is hockey.

The Varsity Sports Series is a high-performance competition that enables South African universities to compete against one another in a number of different sporting and cultural codes that currently include, athletics, hockey, cricket, football, netball, choral singing, rugby and rugby sevens.

Wits has three men’s teams for soccer, rugby and hockey in Varsity Sport.

Participation in sport has increased among female students.

“The goal was to give bursaries that are a little more competitive and can also contribute to the student athletes’ exorbitant university fees,” said Carter.

The criteria for obtaining a bursary is reviewed on a regular basis and is specific to particular sporting codes. There are, however, some criteria that apply to codes, such as representing a national, provincial or invitational team, the needs of the team for a specific position, leadership and transformation.

Carter said that they are desperately trying for the soccer ladies and netball to qualify for Varsity Sport.

“We also hope basketball will become a Varsity Sport code in future, in which our women are the national champions,” he said.

Wits Sport is a strategic partner for the Women in Sport Campaign. This is something Carter hopes will “go a long way towards recruiting and attracting more top female student athletes”.

Tanita Ramburuth-Hurt, who is the Women in Sport officer for the Wits Sports Council (WSC), says that there has been an increase in women’s participation in sport at the university.

She also said that Wits, as a whole, is working towards gender equality in sport.

There is a new sport portfolio on the WSC executive called “Gender Equality in Sport” and Ramburuth-Hurt is the first gender equity officer.

The portfolio has the purpose of “supporting current sportswomen and encouraging more women to get involved in sport”, Ramburuth-Hurt said.

The programme has been introduced this year, with the main roles and responsibilities having been set out while there are plans to host “more influential events” next year, she said.

Applications for sport bursaries close at the end of August with the allocation process taking place at the end of September going into early October.