Banyana Banyana: it’s not enough

CityPress - - Sport - S’Busiso Mse­leku sm­se­leku@city­press.co.za Fol­low me on Twit­ter @Sbu_Mse­leku

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.

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