Mark Boucher, the head coach of the South African cricket team, admitted in a discussion that the national team culture in his playing days was insensitive and the players lacked maturity and consciousness in the immediate post-apartheid era. He apologized for offending any of his teammates and promised that he has grown as a person and understands the pain that such derogatory comments can cause.
Boucher submitted a 14-page affidavit to Cricket South Africa’s Social Justice and Nation-Building committee containing “general response”, to accusations of being involved in racial discrimination. Boucher is going to submit a second supplementary affidavit dealing with specific issues at the conclusion of the hearings. He is also open to being available for one-on-one discussions with former teammates in order to reestablish positive relations.
Boucher also spoke in detail about the allegations made by Paul Adams, who told the SJN that he was nicknamed “brown s***” by his teammates in the late 1990s. Boucher explained that he would call Paul by this name after celebrations of a series win in a cheerful but rather insensitive mood and also that he did not give Paul that name and also doesn’t know who came up with it.
Boucher also admitted that he was involved in singing songs with his teammates where Adams would be referred to as “brown s***” and that he understands now how understandably offensive it must have been to Adams. Boucher said he “deeply regrets” being involved in such activities and giving offensive nicknames.
Racism has always existed in different parts of the world and also in sports where teammates of different colors are considered “low in status” than their other teammates. It is in the 2010’s decade where the world began to be sensitive in every working area possible and the “normalizing of racism” slowly began to stop. Now, in most parts of the world, in most countries, racism is viewed as punishable by law, and actions are taken against the offenders.
Adams’ testimony and that of other players including Roger Telemachus, Loots Bosman, and Ashwell Prince talked about a team culture that made them feel low and where issues of the country’s past such as apartheid were not discussed. Boucher admitted that and said that the formerly privileged white players were unprepared for post-apartheid challenges.
Boucher’s statement read, “We were not only naive but were also ill-equipped to deal with the new environment in which we found ourselves. To my certain knowledge, there had not been any briefing or discussion by CSA as to how we deal with the legacy of Apartheid, how players and management should deal with the additional pressures placed on them by the country and the media, how we ensure that there is equality, respect, empathy and inclusiveness in the team. There was no guidance, no culture discussions, no open fora and no-one appointed by CSA to deal with awkwardness or questions or pressures that were being experienced by the players and, in particular, by the players of color.”