In any novel you need various crucial elements that makes a story bold enough to grab attention, yet have enough sincerity to keep viewers engaged. At the core of this mixing pot of messages is the ability to place a real life story in context. The story of Sally Little can at times seem like a fairytale, and a nightmare at others.

As readers of nonfiction, we often face the risk of forgetting that we’re reading accounts based on a real person, experiencing real events, so something “Capturing the Fire” does successfully is in emphasizing that the events of Sally Little’s life did not take place within a vacuum. Every legacy, leg of her journey and life-changing experience was also influenced by her situational circumstances. During the height of her career, Sally became more and more aware of the evils of Apartheid– the unjust system of racial oppression.

SL PioneerAs her moral obligation to oppose it grew, so did her understanding that in the international authority’s attempts to curb apartheid through sport sanctions, they would also be curbing her career. At 18 years old, Sally admits her reactions to sport sanction were selfish and those of a young girl living in a censored South African societal context. “When you are a child or teenager you look at things from just your perspective. You’re a bit egotistical and it’s like, “That’s not fair! What did I do? I’m not political.” Little speaks on how  her parents, who lived by the code ‘do unto others as you would be done by’ were vigorously unhappy about the oppressive South Africa.

Many of these insights and stories, of the impact of apartheid, would only really enter Sally’s consciousness much later in her career. It would have a profound impact on her and the direction and decisions she was still to make.

Her story helps place golf as a sport into the social landscape of the time and indicates how players like Sally started changing the direction of golf in South Africa, one strong-willed, striving, systematic swing at a time.

Written by: Mikaela Oosthuizen

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