26/06/2018 12:26 BST | Updated 26/06/2018 12:27 BST

Surfing Competition Highlights Perennial Gender Pay Gap In South African Sports

The Billabong Pro Junior Series in Ballito this weekend highlighted the disparity, when the men's winner walked away with twice the prize money of the winning woman.

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It is no secret that sport in general is male-dominated, and as with any such system, there is a pay gap between male and female athletes.

Case in point: on Sunday, the Billabong Pro Junior Series concluded in Ballito, KwaZulu-Natal, featuring a large attendance of both local and international surfers.


Rio Waida of Indonesia took first place in the men's under-18, and South Africa's Zoe Steyn took first place in the women's under-18.

However, the win was overshadowed when a tweet started doing the rounds highlighting the pay gap involved — the men's winners took twice in prize money as the women.

Waida won R8,000, while Steyn won R4,000 — even though they surfed the same course in the same conditions. The men's winner gets 100 percent more than his female counterpart, highlighting a perennial pay gap in South African sport.

We are trying to mend it and make it right. Surfing South Africa vice-president Bongani Xulu

HuffPost spoke to Bongani Xulu, vice-president of Surfing South Africa, trying to get his view of the situation. However, he would not comment on the pay gap, saying only: "We are trying to mend it and make it right."

There have been recent efforts by other South African sporting codes to end this unfair practice — after the 2018 Comrades Marathon, the winners of the men's and women's races both walked away with R425,000, and prize money for top 10 men and women was also equal — showing an effort by Athletics South Africa to level the playing field.

However, it's an example that history tells us not all sporting codes are following.

There have been several other pay gaps in South African sport over the years.

According to the Mail & Guardian, it came to light in 2014 that the national women's team Banyana Banyana earned between R2,000 to R5,000 per game, while players for Bafana Bafana took home R60,000 for a win and R30,000 for a draw.

According to City Press, it was also found in cricket that the Proteas players (in 2014) pocketed R46,656 each for a Test match, plus an R34,992 win bonus, while female cricketers only got a maximum of R10,000 a match.

The Mail & Guardian reported in 2014 that women netball players earned anything from R1,500 for a winning match to R15,000 for a month-long tour.

Clearly, more needs to be done in terms of equal pay in SA sport.