JOHANNESBURG – Amanda Dlamini will use her voice and stature to campaign for the better treatment of women in football in the country and on the continent after retiring from international football on Tuesday.
It took the former Banyana Banyana captain four years to finally retire and end a career that spanned 11 years, earning 105 caps during that time.
Dlamini captained Banyana in their first appearance at the Olympic Games in London in 2012 and her last involvement with the side came at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.
“Toki”, as she is affectionately known, also led the senior women’s national team to second place in the 2012 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea.
“I wanted to retire a year after I stepped down as captain (in 2014),” Dlamini said. “But Mpumi (Nyandeni) and Janine (van Wyk) convinced me to stay. I did because after we played in the Olympics, there was a belief that we could finally become African champions and go to the World Cup, which are the only two things that were missing in my career.
“We didn’t do it in 2014 and there was a belief that we could do it in 2016, but it also didn’t happen. It became an addictive cycle that I had to stop because if I put it off, I would have thought we could do it this year and go to the World Cup in France next year.”
The 29-year-old from Harding has slowly been preparing for life after Banyana with her job as an analyst with SuperSport and starting the Amanda Dlamini Girls Foundation that aims to empower girls from rural and underprivileged areas through sport and education.
“Toki”, who grew up shy and reserved, found her voice when she was appointed Banyana captain in 2011. She used that voice to speak up for her teammates, who showered her with glowing tributes upon hearing that she had retired from international football. And Dlamini will continue using that voice to speak up for women in the beautiful game.
“I think that I can speak freely now that I am no longer in the set-up,” Dlamini said. “I am not going to disrespect anyone but I have a responsibility to speak up so that the upcoming players don’t go through what I and my generation went through.
“The main thing that hasn’t changed since I started and is still there now that I have retired are the poor wages. I think that it’s actually gotten worse over the years. We sacrifice so much to represent our country, the least they can do is properly reward us.
“Look at Thembi (Kgatlana). She was honoured in the continent (with her nomination for Caf’s Footballer of the Year) before she was honoured in her own country.”
Dlamini continued: “Another issue that I think needs to be addressed is the issue of the jersey. That one makes us look like we come second.
“The allocation of jerseys is so bad that we have to share it with other women’s national teams. We are given four jerseys at the start of the year but that doesn’t mean we have four jerseys because we have to share it with the junior teams.
“You find that you end up with one jersey that you use for the whole year and you can’t even give your family a memento to show that you are a national team player. A lot of players sacrifice school and their jobs, taking unpaid leave to play for Banyana, yet they are not met halfway. That needs to change.”