Banyana Banyana, SAFA and South Africans who support women in sport are still reeling from the disappointment of Banyana Banyana not having finished in the top three at the recently played AWC in Namibia.
Had Banyana medalled, the national women’s football team would have qualified for their debut participation in FIFA’s 2015 women’s football world cup.
Followers of women’s football have varying opinions about the team’s performances; criticisms include players not ‘trying hard enough’, ‘players being played out of position’, ‘no striking quality up front’.
As a supporter of sportswomen and women in sport I, too have my opinions. The tournament is over; the objective for women’s world cp qualification wasn’t achieved.
Now begins the stage for the national women’s team and one of the ambitions must be qualification for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
To start with, I argue fiercely that Vera Pauw’s short contract be re-negotiated for a long term appointment. Pauw may be accused of playing players out of position and not playing the players who should have been on the field, but we can blame the national coach if the goals were not scored. Pauw had a few months to acquaint and acclimatize herself with the national women’s squad and the structure in which they operate. Given a few months to do this, she managed to cement a national women’s squad and have them performing admirably in warm up friendly matches in the build up to the AWC.
However, this build up, mostly against weaker southern African women’s football teams, was to SA’s advantage. It gave a false impression of how prepared Banyana would be. Banyana contested the AWC as untitled champions of Southern Africa, but were exposed by the tough and strong West African teams of Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana and Ivory Coast.
Admittedly, much stronger opposition wasn’t forthcoming as other countries outside of Southern Africa weren’t keen to engage Banyana in friendly rivalry.
Vera Pauw knows Banyana Banyana and, to some extent, knows the workings of football in South Africa, Why start out with the appointment of another coach when a coach with a short term contract and a few months to prepare, ‘seemingly failed’?
Where do we start with another coach? Inside South Africa? With another male coach when we have made a significant forward move with the selection of the first woman coach for Banyana?
The technical expertise available to assist the national women’s coach is not internationally experienced. They may love women’s football and coach football within the country, but they just don’t have the astute content which Vera Pauw needed to work with. But given time, lots of support to acquire the coaching acumen, the assistant and technical coaches will develop.
Most importantly, the country’s football talent must be scoured, identified and sourced. The national coach must see what is available, which players can be developed into classy and match winning internationals. A major grievance of players playing in the provincial leagues is that the national coach never sees them play! During the build up to the AWC, the national coach was informed about talented players via cellphone video and telephone calls. But Vera Pauw never had the chance to see what players could be selected for Banyana Banyana.
I’m not a football coach. I’m of the opinion that older and veteran players, who couldn’t perform in a continental championship, shouldn’t be selected with the future in mind. They have played several international friendlies, been in numerous training camps but haven’t performed when it was imperative for them to do so. Bring the youth layers through the system, given them opportunities to develop, assess their growth.
There’s much more assessment that needs to be undertaken; some thorough thrashing of viewpoints and opinions. Ultimately, we want the best for South Africa’s national women’s football team as their performance impacts on the girls and women’s participation in football throughout the country.
Negotiate a long term contract with Vera Pauw and give her the conditions required to produce a winning Banyana Banyana.