Unhealthy State Of Women’s Football In South Africa  By Cheryl Roberts

1 Sep


Women’s football is growing immensely at grassroots level in South Africa and on our continent, Africa. Administration ad co-ordination of the women’s game is under the national football structures of every football federation.

Majority opinion is that women’s football is not being given the attention and support the women’s game should be receiving. Arguments suggest, and this in all honesty, that football is so male-dominated and controlled that it’s very hard for women’s football to be ‘taken seriously’ and given the support and financial resources which is allocated to growth and development of girls and men in football.

SAFA will tell you they are ‘supporting women’s football, that they are ‘prioritising women playing football’ and ‘growing the women’s game’.

About two years ago SAFA President, Danny Jordaan insisted that women’s football must be administered by women and women coaches must oversee Banyana Banyana.

I do understand the workings of sports federations cannot satisfy every member, that what is ‘considered in the best interests’ of the federation’s organisation is what dictates policy and its subsequent implementation.

When we talk about women’s football in SA, we talk about all aspects of the game’s organization, from grassroots to international participation.

Appointment Of Coaches

. At national level who decides how the women coaches are appointed? Surely, long serving employee, Fran Hilton-Smith can’t make these decisions on her own?

. SAFA has been producing several women coaches who are gaining various coaching certificates. Do these women coaches have a future as coaches within the SAFA teams?

. I was told by Fran Hilton Smith that SAFA is sending out four women coaches to Germany. I thought SA’s coach of the tournament for the u19 event, Marion February is one of them. When I checked with Marion February, she didn’t know anything about the trip to Germany. Who are the four women coaches selected? What coaching results on the field have they attained? I mention the example of Marion February because emerging coaches are beginning to get worried, wondering if they will ever be given opportunities or are provincial and national coaching positions reserved for a few selected women.

. Selection of various age group teams. Why is a coach like Sheryl Botes a selector for the girls u15, girls u19 and women’s u20 team? Botes has been given many opportunities in SAFA. Has she also been given a coaches lifetime appointment? Does she own this position within SAFA?

. I use the example of coach Marion February, from Cape Town. Marion used her personal money to gain coaching certification. A few years ago, before Banyana’s assistant coach, Desiree Ellis, coach Marion February was SA’s next highest qualified women’s football coach, after Sheryl Botes. Why is Desiree Ellis appointed ahead of another woman coach who is SA’s  successful u19 team coach? Whys hasn’t Sheryl Botes been appointed to Banyana Banyana, ahead of the foreign coach brought in by head coach, Vera Pauuw.

Why are the same coaches and selectors being appointed? Whys are we appointing so much older women, over 40 and 50 yeas of age when there are young women keen to get involved in the throes of coaching.

I ask these questions from the outside of SAFA because they must be asked. Seemingly one or two people within SAFA are controlling appointments and these are based n personal preferences and likes.

 Selection For Banyana Banyana

How does this selection when SAFA has a national women’s coach who hasn’t seen the talent available in SA’s women’s football team? By the make-up of Banyana Banyana teams and squads it’s clear that players playing in the Gauteng region are noticed quickly and called up to Banyana Banyana.

I have asked this before and will ask it again: How does the national coach not see any potential in SA’s champion team, Cape Town Roses, yet she sees players from teams who haven’t proven themselves as CT Roses? If Banyana Banyana was Africa’s champion team and was winning matches with big goals we would say the coach is a winning coach. But this Banyana Banyana teams elected by the coach is struggling to win 1-0 against African teams who have played fewer international matches. I also understand that people have their independent preferences and selection biases. So selection and performance delivery is left in the control of the coach.

 National Competitions

. SAFA says it can’t get a sponsor to fund a women’s professional league. With millions in corporate sponsorship and the world cup legacy fund, you say ‘you can’t’? What do you mean? You are not trying other avenues, not trying hard enough for women’s football!

. What about a national Top Eight for women’s football teams and a national knockout competition. Why must women’s football have just a provincial league and then the national play offs with a measly prize fund of R50 000 for the winning team? The players play this format season after season with no added competitions. They need more motivation and inspirations with more competitions

Women Officials In Football

. Women officials like Natasha Tshiclas, Nomsa Mahlangu and Fran Hilton-Smith may have women’s football as their interest. They are also paid by SAFA, travel the world because of SAFA and we cannot expect them to call out all the wrongs within SAFA’s administration of women’s football. The women officials might not like me to ask these questions. My answer to them and anyone else is that no woman owns her position within women’s football in SA. In fact, I’m of the opinion, that’s some women officials within SAFA have reached their sell by date and must move out of those positions which they’ve occupied for so long.

Seemingly, Fran Hilton-Smith has most of the power and control within SAFA when it comes to women’s football because she is asked to ‘recommend’. SAFA exist for the whole of SA, not only for Gauteng women’s football teams and a team in KZN another here and there. Fran Hilton-Smith tells the women coaches she has plans for them but doesn’t ask them how they see their contribution or how they would like to be placed. Everyone has to wait on Fran Hilton-Smith to notice them and get a phone call.

Involve more women coaches from around the country, not only a select few. And its one coach for one position; not one coach for several coaching positions. All youth age group girl’s teams must be coached and managed by women.

I write this opinion about the state of women’s football in South Africa because there are concern and much dissatisfaction amongst women footballers. I speak to many involved in women’s football. Most importantly, I can work out how wrong selections and appointments are being done. I speak out because women’s football in SA doesn’t belong to an elite club of women football officials who get to travel to the women’s world cup, African football matches and elite football events in SA. I can’t sit back and see just a few women thinking they have the right to organize women’s football as if the game belongs to them.

I state again that the women’s cabal controlling SA women’s football must be broken!


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