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Nobubele is a lecturer in the Nelson Mandela University Department of Sociology and Anthropology under the New Generation Academics Programme (nGAP). She also serves as the secretary of University Sport South Africa (USSA)-Netball and the convenor of the USSA Student Forum Research Desk. In her masters she focused on femininity in Netball and she is currently working on her PhD. Her research interests are broadly located in cultural sociology, gender in sport, critical university studies and social movement theory.
“Returning netball to the people” – a queer review of Netball South Africa’s campaign for social justice in netball between 2019 and 2022
Nobubele Phuza, Nelson Mandela University
A widely held belief is that netball is a space preserved for and dominated by women. It is true that in its development, netball has been promoted for women, protected by women against masculinisation, particularly from male bodies. Yet a significant number of men have and are playing netball and now enjoy near similar status in the “women’s game”. This paper reflects on the campaign “returning netball to the people” from 2019 to 2022, which promoted inclusive participation in South African netball. It draws attention to the popularization of men in netball and the dynamics that emerged from it. Taking a post-queer(ness) framework, this work aims to complicate the conversation on the development of netball on the African continent and its contribution to gender equality discourses in sports.