Minister of Sport and Recreation, Tokozile Xasa, hands out a special recognition to Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis and her team at a breakfast in Cape Town on Wednesday. Photo: Armand Hough/African News Agency/ANA

CAPE TOWN – Put your money where your mouth is. That is basically the message Minister of Sports and Recreation Tokozile Xasa sent to corporate South Africa after her department pledged R5 million to the formation of the new Safa National Women’s League.

The ministry hosted a breakfast at a city hotel for Banyana Banyana on Wednesday for their achievements at the African Women’s Cup of Nations last year, where they finished runners-up and qualified for their first-ever World Cup in France in June.

Banyana Banyana are in town this week to play two friendlies against the Netherlands and Sweden as part of the Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and Albertina Sisulu Challenge celebrations.

“Inequality is top of the agenda of South Africans and will continue to be so‚” Xasa said. “As a department, it is important for us as Sport and Recreation to show what we are doing in order to assist in our journey to fight this inequality.

“In the next three years, we are availing R5 million towards the Safa Women’s League, and we want to challenge corporate South Africa to come to the party as well. We want to produce more golden girls.

“We are excited that more girls are coming through, and we are looking forward to more of you getting into the professional space. I challenge South Africans to support this league and women’s football by going to the stadium.

“We have put down the first brick. Corporate South Africa must bring the second brick. And media the third brick. Then we have a ladder to go up.

“We want more women to make a living out of sport so they can take care of their families. We want more women who come to Premier Soccer League matches to come and support Banyana Banyana.”

Safa have also pledged to offer coach Desiree Ellis’ team all the support they require in their build-up to France 2019.

In addition to the two high-profile friendlies against the Dutch and Sweden in Cape Town, Banyana will also face current World Cup champions USA in Los Angeles on May 12 and hosts France.

“It is important because they are playing against two teams (Netherlands and Sweden) that have been to the World Cup on many occasions,” Safa president Danny Jordaan said.

“After this, we play against the United States in Los Angeles‚ a country that has won the World Cup. And then against France‚ a team that is also among the best.

“We could not have put together a better preparation for this team to go to the World Cup.”

@ZaahierAdams


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