Sat Oct 22 00:11:31 SAST 2016

Women's soccer in doldrums in SA

By unknown | Mar 23, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Linda Moreotsene

Linda Moreotsene

Questions have been raised about whether women's football has progressed since South Africa's readmission to the international world.

Some say Banyana Banyana's performances of that era should have long paved the way for the current crop and that we should be on par with the best in the world by now.

Instead, we still do not have a professional league, the Sanlam National League died, and the existing Vodacom League is plagued with problems. Each province has 16 teams playing in the Vodacom League, taking the number to 144 teams throughout the country.

Banyana Banyana coach August Makalakalane recently complained about players reporting for national duty unfit.

Apparently, matches are often postponed because the opposition cannot cover transport costs. Taking this into consideration, how does the coach select players for the national team? When will we see a professional league?

Makalakalane said: "The process of selecting the team involves me being on the road a lot. I normally get a call from club bosses, coaches and maybe regional managers to come and observe a player during tournaments or club matches.

"If I am happy with the player, she is brought into the existing pool of players I have. At the moment I have about 40 players in the pool.

"When the Sanlam League sponsors pulled out, clubs had to go back to the lower level Vodacom, and that obviously did not have a positive impact on players' motivation.

"I think we need to bring school leagues and interprovincial tournaments back, that will ensure that there is mass participation.

"As it is, I will have the Under-17 World Cup qualifiers very soon for the first time ever. It is a big, big challenge for us and I find myself having to go and get players from Banyana. We need a bigger pool of players."

Anastasia Tsichlas, convenor of the Safa women's soccer committee, said: "I think the structure is there. We have the High Performance Centre where we take players to school and they learn the basics of football.

"I agree that the need for professional league is huge for us to be competitive. I have also been in contact with [Sports] Minister [Makhenkesi] Stofile, proposing that we employ Banyana Banyana players in government structures such as the police and the army, where they can train in the morning and evening, in between work.

"That is why Nigeria is doing so well, the players are always together. That is how you win games. We have been working on getting sponsorship for our players. We will need at least R16 million to establish and run the league.

"For the past year, Raymond Hack [Safa chief executive] has been telling me that negotiations are at an advanced stage, but when money does come there are always other things, like the Bafana Bafana or Under-23s."

In the past, Banyana Banyana had quality players like Anna Monate, Khabo Zitha, Desiree Ellis, Fikile Sithole, Lydia Monyepao, Sibongile Khumalo and Hilda Lekakala. Previous national teams used to beat almost everybody, only to be terrorised by Nigeria, who have been monopolising women's soccer on the continent.

With the current crop of players, South Africa has been reduced to a laughing stock.

Themba Mathwasa, president of Soweto Ladies, said: "We are not where we are supposed to be. It is not something that has to be hidden.

"All we have is the Vodacom League, nothing else. We dream of beating the top countries in the continent, but we are not playing well.

"I don't think the lack of a professional league is a major issue as we used to play good football without it. We managed to beat Ghana without a league."


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