Coach Desiree Ellis said many players in the class of 2020 had excelled and have shown that they are ready to make the transition into professional football. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix
Coach Desiree Ellis said many players in the class of 2020 had excelled and have shown that they are ready to make the transition into professional football. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Opinion: Safa needs to show Banyana the money

By Michael Sherman Time of article published Nov 17, 2020

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By: Michael Sherman

JOHANNESBURG – Fresh off their fourth successive title-winning campaign in the Cosafa Women’s Championship, South Africa’s national women’s team Banyana Banyana will hope they are finally on their way to earning as much as their male counterparts.

Since 2012, Banyana have competed in two editions of the Olympic Games and made their debut in the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

The men’s team, Bafana Bafana, in contrast have not qualified for a World Cup since 2002 – they gained automatic qualification in 2010 as hosts.

Banyana are ranked 53rd in the world and third in Africa, while Bafana are 72nd globally and 14th on the continent.

Banyana beat Botswana 2-1 in the final of the Cosafa Women’s Championship on Saturday, and since then there have been renewed calls for the women to earn as much as the men. The pressure piled on the SA Football Association (Safa) has been led by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).

The Safa national executive committee (NEC) appears to be bowing to that pressure, with steps reportedly in place to make equal pay a reality.

Read: Banyana coach Desiree Ellis clinches Coach of the Year at GSport Awards

Safa spokesperson Dominic Chimhavi told Sowetan LIVE: “This is an issue which we are mindful of and the Safa NEC has always said that they are looking into the possibilities of making sure that whatever is done for the senior male national team should also be applied to the senior female national team.”

“It is something that is a work in progress‚ but also at the moment is determined by what is put in the coffers for the two respective teams.

“It is an issue that needs collectivity in the sense that the corporate world continues to pour in money into the men’s game and not the women’s game. That needs to change, but as Safa we have always maintained that there is huge potential for growth of the women’s game.”

On Sunday, the EFF released their statement calling for equal pay.

“This victory should signal the need to expedite equal pay and sponsorship of all national teams regardless of gender,” the EFF statement began.

“Banyana Banyana has long proven itself to be a national asset and a source of courage in the midst of despair and despondency‚ as a result of worst economic downturn‚ the Covid-19 pandemic and most importantly‚ the rampant racism being visited upon black Africans.

“We call on the male senior team‚ Bafana Bafana, to emulate the women team and make South Africa great again like they did in 1996 Caf continental competition. The EFF calls on the minister of sports‚ arts and culture to ensure that the team is paid more money than Bafana Bafana, who haven’t won anything for over 15 years.”

The Banyana squad, which was called on to do duty, was drawn mostly from the local Sasol Women’s League.

Safa vice-president Ria Ledwaba said: “You will find that our players in the Sasol League are not professionals and that’s why we say this team has done tremendously well to win the Cosafa Championship.”

“Many of the players were also drawn from regional leagues, and that says that good work is done at feeder academies around the country.”

Pay issues aside, Banyana are routinely faced with problems the men could scarcely imagine. At the beginning of this month, a matter of days before the November 3 start of the Cosafa Women’s Championship, it emerged that Banyana would have to play in a kit with a covered-up Nike logo. It was believed that Banyana had not been supplied with a new kit from French apparel company Le Coq Sportif as Bafana had.

In fact, the new kit of Bafana, which was announced by Le Coq Sportif in a poorly produced, almost laughable, video on Twitter, would take some imagination to believe it cost Safa very much.

Safa moved swiftly to blame the novel coronavirus pandemic lockdown for its inability to supply Banyana with new kit.

Kaylin Swart during the Banyana training session on the 26 October 2020 at Fun Valley in Port Elizabeth. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

“It is common knowledge that Covid-19 lockdown regulations were announced almost immediately after signing the kit deal, thereby affecting the production and timelines of the delivery of the kit as almost all sectors were shut down, including the textile-manufacturing industry,” Safa said.

“Similarly, international matches were also discontinued. It is therefore clear that both the delivery date of the kit and resumption of international matches depended on the easing of government lockdown regulations.

“Consequently, the regulations were amended in September for international matches to resume as well as the production process.”

Safa ended by saying: “Safa is happy that both Bafana Bafana and Banyana Banyana will be kitted by Le Coq with immediate effect.”

As far as equal pay is concerned, Safa may indeed hope it is something that happens soon, but until it actually materialises, nothing has really changed for Banyana.

African News Agency (ANA)

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