‘Women players need corporate support’, says Banyana skipper
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself to where you are today.
I grew up in Johannesburg and started playing football with boys from the age of six. I fell in love with the game when I found myself on the side of the field almost every day watching my older cousins play the game. With all the challenges I faced by being the only girl playing with the boys, after some years of playing and overcoming such obstacles, I felt the need to create a platform for young girls who love the game. I wanted them to be able play in a comfortable and enjoyable environment without feeling isolated or threatened like I did whilst playing with the boys. In 2012 my very own football club JVW was established. With the aim of giving back and assisting young girls to reach their dreams, I had dreams of my own as a player to achieve, and one of them was to one day play at a Fifa Women’s World Cup, which I am proud to say I have achieved.
Q: As one of the speakers at WFS Africa, what is your message to the football family and what outcomes do you want to see?
The message I would like to bring across to the football world is that for a player who has not gone through the development phases but still managed to achieve a lot, the sky is the limit with all these facilities available. The young players of today are exposed to all the different resources, development programs and top competitions, it is inevitable that these players can become elite athletes if they apply themselves as professionals.
The one thing I hope to come out of this forum is to open the eyes and minds of investors, corporates and individuals that they need to look at women’s football as one of the fastest growing sports in the world. In the past, football was considered to be a preserve for male athletes but football is now growing at a phenomenal rate within the women sector. But for it to reach its potential, it needs huge support from all sectors of society financially.
Q: Are you happy with the growth of the game in Africa?
I am extremely happy with the development of the game in Africa, although I feel there is still a huge gap between Africa and the rest of the world in terms of development structures, competitive leagues and international games.
Q: Why is the corporate world reluctant to pour money into women’s football, is it cultural or the economy is just bad?
I feel that the women’s game in Africa has not yet been fully recognised. Hopefully in a couple of years when Africa is able to compete against top countries, the mind-set will shift. We are gradually moving in the right direction as African female footballers and the world is slowly recognising Africa as a hub of talent following good showings at the Olympic Games and the Women’s World Cup.