University of Pretoria rubbishes coach's racism claims

PHOTO: Gallo images/ Getty images
PHOTO: Gallo images/ Getty images

Pretoria - The University of Pretoria (Tuks) has refuted claims made by ex-coach Michael Seme that its black coaches “aren’t appreciated and don’t seem to get enough support from top management”.

The decorated athletics coach has decided to call it quits after a decade-long service at Tuks and has been appointed head of athletics at KwaZulu-Natal Athletics.

He’s a former mentor to South Africa’s golden-girl Caster Semenya, and helped propelled the athlete to her first International Association of Athletics Federations 800m world title in 2009.

According to The Daily Sun Seme felt his passion to develop athletes was not allowed to flourish in Pretoria, which frustrated him to the point where he decided to leave the university. “Tuks didn’t see the value in me. I didn’t feel appreciated anymore and decided to pack and go,” the coach stated.

“I was constantly overlooked for many years. I’m passionate about development and enjoy working with aspiring athletes, but I wasn’t allowed to do that here,” Seme told the paper.

Coaches all treated the same - university 

But the university’s spokesperson, Rikus Delport, dismissed Seme’s utterances. “We treat all our coaches at the University of Pretoria the same regardless of race, gender or sporting code [and they are] given ample opportunities to develop whilst working with their athletes.”

Delport said opportunities include having access to all internal coaching workshops and forums which are internal opportunities for all Tuks sport coaches to upskill, learn, share and grow in their coaching abilities. “In addition we have encouraged and sent coaches, which includes our black coaches, to conferences to provide them with exposure to the best international thinking around sport and high performance,” Delport added.   

According to Delport they have promoted black coaches in a variety of sporting codes to senior coaching positions, including head coaching positions and that a black coach is in charge of their highly successful varsity football teams. “Mr Seme left Tuks sport on his own volition. He never officially resigned and we discovered only on social media that he has been appointed to his new position.”

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