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Brothers can help Banyana score their biggest triumph

The South African women's team is looking for their maiden African Womens Cup of Nations (Awcon) title. They face Nigeria in the final on Saturday.
The South African women's team is looking for their maiden African Womens Cup of Nations (Awcon) title. They face Nigeria in the final on Saturday.
Image: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

There is a link between how a person is perceived and how society treats them.

I was pondering this as I read comment after comment on social media, rightfully taking football authorities (read the SA Football Association) to task for how they have historically chosen to structure their investment in Banyana Banyana, and women's football in general.

This includes their wages - or, more accurately, stipends - training and administration budgets and how those numbers and efforts compare with those channeled towards their male counterparts, Bafana Bafana.

The debate, as we know, came about because of how the ladies continue to handle their business in Accra, Ghana, host of the 2018 Africa Women's Cup of Nations.

I was heartened to see that the majority of those who were calling for change were male, not because I don't value what the ladies have to say, but because in all things sports-centric, men are the target market.

I will expand on that further.

This week, those who had a bone to pick with Safa singled out Bafana Bafana's perennial underwhelming performances, contrasting them with Banyana's knack for delivery, and emphasising how the degree to which the two are rewarded is not even in the same stratosphere.

The male folk going out to bat for us ladies is welcome and long overdue, and as women, if we want progress, it is worthwhile to embrace and join forces with those men that are open to being allies.

The overwhelming support shown by men on social media was a momentous turning point, and should be seized upon as a conduit of real change, and not simply peter out after the spotlight moves on from this particular tournament and the hype around the team's World Cup qualification.

Safa has fingered the lack of appeal to sponsors of the Banyana Banyana brand as a major contributing factor to the frankly pitiful financial backing the national senior women's team has received.

As those who are well-versed in the intricacies of marketing and advertising tell me the driving force behind decisions about who to plough money into is numbers.

In sport, the lion's share of the purse naturally goes towards male-backed codes, as they are the primary consumers.

And if fans, who are overwhelmingly male, can back their words with action and fill every venue that Banyana play at while also voting with their wallets in terms of merchandising and things of that nature, the powers that be - from advertisers and broadcasters to football administrators - will have nowhere to hide.

Still, for all its shortcomings, Safa has established the high performance centre in Pretoria, which has produced constant stream of amazing talent presently displayed by the incomparable Thembi Kgatlana in Ghana, and many others before her.

In that regard, well done to them.

It is a collaborative effort. So, brothers, do your part and make us proud.

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