In the week when the mother of nation was buried it is sad to hear that women’s football is once again getting the short end of the stick in South Africa. The prolonged drought in the Western Cape has wreaked havoc across several different sporting codes in the province from cricket to football as pitches have turned to dust bowls and become unplayable. For this reason, the South African Football Association in the Western Cape has delayed the start of the SASOL Women’s League until July because there are no pitches for them to play on.
But men’s football in the amateur league football continues while the women’s teams are left to fend for themselves. As SAFA Western Cape Secretary explains, there are artificial pitches that are available but they are being used by the ABC Motsepe League and other SAFA men’s amateur teams. “It is very difficult for people to meddle in other people’s business. Take Gugulethu for an example, the AstroTurf is being used by three or four teams,” says Clans adding that they have advised the women’s teams to negotiate the use of these AstroTurf pitches on their own. “Who then speaks to the LFA’s? We have said to the teams go and speak to whoever you need to spe4ak to so that you can get these facilities.”
But this approach is not good enough because without the federation enforcing a policy of sharing of a facility within an LFA, it has resulted in some women’s teams being forced to train on sand patches. For example Cape Town Roses, who have been provincial champions in eight of the last nine years now, have to train on a rundown pitch at a primary school in Gugulethu. Surely SAFA should take the lead and enforce some sort of policy to guarantee women access to these artificial pitches? For the custodians of football to wash their hands of women’s football in the Western Cape in a year when Banyana Banyana will try to qualify for the Women’s World Cup via the Women’s AFCON smacks of poor leadership. Let us not forget that some of Banyana’s most influential players in Leandra Smeda and Jermain Seoposenwe play their football in the Western cape and for them to be inactive for months ahead of crucial qualification matches will not bode well for the national; team’s chances of secure a birth at their maiden World Cup.