Sometimes it’s hard to believe that the first international match Banyana Banyana played was in 1993, looking at where women’s football is in the country. The growth of the women’s game is moving at a snail pace. One would have thought that with the milestones reached by the national team, including two Olympic Games appearances, a lot would have been done to speed up the progress.
In fact, I am starting to believe that Fifa is somewhat forcing the mother body’s hand to increase participation in the women’s football. For as long as I have been covering the game, and even before, there have been promises of a professional league. Sanlam, Vodacom and Absa are some of the former sponsors who were behind women’s football but they all left without it being professionalised.
Safa president, Danny Jordaan speaks a lot about Spain and their running of the women’s football league. But what has taken the local body so long to launch such a league? Since Jordaan announced Safa’s plan of the professional league there hasn’t been any concrete strategies on how the league would work. None of the PSL teams have committed in starting up women’s teams that would play in that league set to start in 2019. Would having clubs like Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates increase the support for women’s football in terms of spectators and sponsorship deals? Why does Safa struggle to get more sponsors for the women’s national teams, as compared to the men’s teams?
Former Banyana star, Portia Modise doesn’t believe that Safa will launch the league next year. She believes Safa bosses do not take women’s football seriously. Bashin says the treatment the players are getting hasn’t changed.
Ideally, one of the benefits of having a professional league would be South Africa becoming more competitive in global competitions and hopefully, qualify for the senior women’s World Cup as well. Some of the issues that could hamper such a league include the age group of a number of players in the Sasol League. A large contingent of players in the league is of a school going age. How are they expected to balance the demands of playing professionally while making sure their academics do not suffer? Former Kanatla Ladies coach, Mkuseli Godlwana raised this concern, being professional would require having players who play full time. For the sake of a young girl child dreaming of being a professional footballer, I hope the league does take off next year.