Inequality continues to rear its ugly head in South African football. While the nation celebrated Bantwana’s qualification for this year’s Under-17 World Cup, SAFA by their actions have revealed that they value the men’s Under-17 team more than the girls Under-17 team. SAFA President Danny Jordaan says Bantwana won’t be paid any incentive bonuses for qualifying for Uruguay 2019, yet Amajibos were paid bonuses for qualifying for the Under-17 World Cup. In 2015 Amajimbos qualified for the Under 17 World Cup in Chile and were promised R5000 for every win during their qualification tournament at the African Under-17 Championships in Niger in February 2015. So why does the same not apply to Bantwana? Jordaan said the Bantwana players were not promised any money for the qualifiers, because they ought not to be rewarded for representing South Africa.
But why is that national pride pays the bills for women and not men?
The lack of financial reward is one of the factors that are driving women away from playing football in South Africa. Let’s take Banyana Banyana as an example. Currently Banyana players receive up to R600 in daily allowances while on national duty, which is far less than the allowance that are paid to their male counterparts Bafana Bafana, this for footballers that don’t have the benefit of falling back on a salary drawn from a professional league. But instead of getting money in the bank Bantwana have been rewarded for qualifying for Uruguay 2019 with an overseas trip. Jordaan argues that the Spanish trip will help the team prepare well for the World Cup. “We want to work the full program and now they have included Spain. Then we go to Uruguay. They must be ready for that tournament. We want to be one of the best representatives from this African the continent,’ he says.
But it seems as though most of the Under-17 players are satisfied with the European tour they will take before the showpiece begins. Bantwana striker, Thambolinye Mzoneli who was instrumental in helping the team qualify for Uruguay 2019, scoring three goals in the qualifiers, is looking forward to the tour. She says she playing against the Spanish will be a dream come true.
“I’m excited. I hope it won’t be soon because I am injured now. I hope I will be here (in the team) for the trip,” says they Crawford La Lucia pupil.
For her and other players, playing on the international stage is reward enough for representing their country. The memories of playing against the best in the world will live on in their minds but it should be more than just playing for the badge.
Although we all love to see athletes die for the country on the field, it should be remembered that one can’t eat a Protea badge.