debunking old myths

Linda Moreotsene

Linda Moreotsene

There is no reward for women who choose to play football professionally.

This is a popular - and usually accurate - estimation of the situation.

However, though they are just a tiny drop in the ocean, a trio of girls have set out to challenge the status quo. Veronica Phewa, Lena Mosebo and Portia Modise have proven that one can make a living from playing the game.

They have not only secured contracts abroad - Phewa and Mosebo are based in the United States while Modise is in Denmark - but they are integral members of their teams.

Their success has rubbed off on their counterparts in the country, and as a result, the national team, Banyana Banyana, had an exceedingly good season last year.

They went all the way to the final in the continental showpiece - the African Women's Championships - losing to hosts Equatorial Guinea.

They are now ranked second on the continent, after years of playing second fiddle to teams such as Nigeria and Ghana.

Players such as Mpumi Nyandeni and captain Kylie-Ann Louw have been the mainstay of the team. But no local player has made an impression quite like striker Noko Matlou.

That Matlou has been August Makalakalane's lucky charm is indisputable. She is getting used to having accolades heaped on her as she stands poised to emulate Modise and be crowned CAF Female Player of the Season later this year.

More good news for players this year is that the South African Football Association has now announced the launch of a women's league on February 14.

There has not been sponsorship for proper women's leagues for years, and the news that Sasol will now take over the running of the league has been met with glee .

Safa spokesman Morio Sanyane said the details of the structures - from development to the premier league itself - could not be discussed and would only be unveiled at the official launch.

Another good move has been the establishment of an academy at the High Performance Centre in Tshwane. Not only does this place operate as a feeder for the under-17s, under-20s and Banyana, it also presents well-rounded individuals to society.

Four of the girls from this academy have registered with the University of Johannesburg for first-year studies.

In the meantime, youngsters such as 17-year-old Busisiwe Ndimeni have emerged to take over when the current crop of players hang up their boots.

Banyana manager Fran Hilton-Smith said except for the prestigious European Eight Nations Tournament next month, the team's schedule has not been finalised.

Banyana are the only African team invited to this tournament that will feature the likes of England and Holland.

This will be yet another chance for more of the players to get snapped up by well-paying overseas clubs.