Banyana Banyana: it’s not enough
Aserious and fast intervention is needed for Banyana Banyana.
The South African national senior women’s football team has once more failed in their bid to lift the CAF Women’s Africa Cup of Nations, confirming their status as perennial bridesmaids.
And they fell in the semifinals to their nemesis Nigeria, before succumbing to the Black Queens of Ghana in a play-off for bronze.
However, a particular spot of bother is Banyana’s record against Nigeria’s Super Falcons.
The two teams have met 10 times in the past, with our local women only coming tops once.
Even then, it was in the semifinals that they beat Nigeria, only to lose to the hosts, Equatorial Guinea, in the 2012 continental tournament.
One of the most embarrassing routings that Banyana have faced was in the 2002 semifinal, where Nigeria ran rings around Banyana, trouncing them 5-0.
Banyana have now finished as runners-up four times: in 1995, 2000, 2008 and 2012.
Their first final was a long 20 years ago, and by now they should have figured out how to win a final.
Failure to do so might soon see them become the butt of silly jokes or even insults, such as in Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.
Others might liken them to a second-hand car that usually promises a lot but delivers very little.
Banyana have also been to the Olympic Games and the results have been the same – failure to progress from the group stages.
However, the blame should not be solely laid at the players’ doorstep.
Football authorities must carry a larger portion of the blame.
To say women’s football is neglected in this country would be a gross understatement.
I know we have mentioned, for instance, the discrepancy in salaries given to women football players and those that their male counterparts qualify for.
Some critics have countered this criticism by saying comparing women’s and men’s football is like comparing apples to oranges, or oranges to tomatoes.
But the problem starts way down, at grassroots level.
The facilities and infrastructure for women in the local football associations are hardly up to scratch.
In some football areas, women are expected to change into training and playing gear (on match days) behind cars or behind some bushes.
Where there are actually changing rooms, they have to share these with their male counterparts, albeit not at the same time.
There needs to be a bigger effort to develop women’s football in this country.
Female soccer players need to be nurtured mostly, and preferably, by female coaches, who are also a scarce resource in this country.
These are only some of the pressing issues that the SA Football Association (Safa) needs to attend to concerning women’s football, as of yesterday.
It is all well and good to have a glamorous Vision 2022 document, but we all know that South Africa’s serious Achilles heel is implementation.
It would not hurt to have agents countrywide who will ensure that women’s football programmes are not only workshopped but implemented, from local football association level upwards.
By the way, we still have those millions of rands that were generated by the 2010 World Cup and are sitting in the World Cup Legacy Trust.
This would be a perfect and valid instance to put some of it to use.
Also, veteran female football administrators, such as Natasha Tsichlas, Nomsa Mahlangu, Mato Madlala and Ria Ledwaba, must show preparedness to dirty their hands. Enough is enough! And not enough is not enough.