‘Banyana won’t win anything in Rio’
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Johannesburg - As Banyana Banyana get ready for their second successive Olympic tournament, the player who scored the country’s only goal in their campaign at the London Games four years ago, has a gloomy outlook for Vera Pauw’s team.
“I want Banyana Banyana to go out there and represent the country with pride, but with the way they (Safa) still treat them; the friendly games they still give them to prepare for such a huge tournament - I’m very sorry (for Banyana),” said Portia Modise.
The former Banyana captain revealed her thoughts on the chances of the national women’s team at the Rio Games later this year, in Kyalami on Tuesday night where she - along with former Banyana captain Simphiwe Dludlu, plus Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates legends Lucas Radebe, Cyril Nzama, Mark Fish and Edward Motale - were unveiled as scouts for Vodacom’s soccer talent search programme “Nxt Level”.
”We qualified for the Olympics,” Modise continued, “and we’re still having games with African teams? We’ve been grouped with China, Sweden and Brazil. Let’s just leave Banyana to go for their holiday and when they come back, we shouldn’t ask them anything because they are not going to win anything there.”
That they are playing the Netherlands in a friendly is neither here nor there, Modise believes.
”One game in Holland is not going to make a difference,” she said matter-of-factly.
”What kills us is this thing of age because at the end of the day we need experience. You can’t take five players who have just one cap each and believe you can kill people who have 79 caps. But when you have someone who doesn’t believe in change or giving others a chance - then nothing will change.”
Two years after being publicly celebrated as the shining star of the country’s football family, Modise is also still waiting - seemingly in vain - on the promises made to her by Safa.
“I’m still owed a lot of things. My golden boot money is still not there and I still haven’t got a job from Safa. There’s nothing for me.”
Now retired after earning 124 Banyana caps and also the distinction of being the only South African player ever to score a hundred goals (101) at international level, Modise was proudly paraded by Safa, with president Danny Jordaan pronouncing that the striker will not only be rewarded financially but would also be roped in to Safa structures.
That, though, is yet to happen.”It is overwhelming that other companies that you did not even represent can recognise you,” Modise wondered aloud.
“But people that you were a soldier for, representing your country with everything you are, can’t recognise you.”
Modise is of the view she’s being treated the way she is because she is a woman.
”I’ve said it before that when you are a woman in this country, you don’t have value... There is no respect. It makes me feel sad knowing that there are other players that are growing up who will achieve what I achieved but they will not be recognised.”
She says she has tried in vain to find out what is taking Safa so long to fulfil their promises.
”They never said how much they would give me, but I remember the president saying he still has to go work out the figures. But it is now two years waiting for my golden boot prize and no-one is saying anything about it.
“I tried to speak to them. I went to Safa House to speak to Fran (Hilton-Smith, Safa’s assistant technical director) and try to complain about my money but they said they are still working on it. But I haven’t heard anything.”
In her rebuttal, Hilton-Smith said Modise has to attend coaching courses first. ”We’ve got a Fifa coaching course that Portia has been invited to.
“That course has been postponed but she knows about it. And she also has to do a CAF B licence but she didn’t attend the course and we hope she will be at the next one.
“Portia needs to realise that we cannot use her unless she is qualified... Shortie (Dludlu) is now the assistant coach of the under 17s because she has done her courses and once Portia does hers we will be able to use her. She’s also got to help herself.”
Safa communication director, Dominic Chimhavi, meanwhile, said the association has deliberately avoided giving Modise money because they would rather empower her for life.
“Portia is one of our legends and we (Safa) would like to see her empowered instead of giving her money that will last only a short time. We want her to go through courses that will see her becoming a coach... ensuring she will have constant income to meet her needs.”