Why Are Women’s Football Teams In South Africa Given A Bad Deal By SAFA? By Cheryl Roberts

23 Nov

Women’s football in South Africa has a corporate sponsor, Sasol who regularly claim their victories about how they champion the women’s football journey in SA. But disgustingly, almost 150 women’s football teams playing in nine provincial leagues across South Africa were this year done an insurmountable injustice when their grants for Sasol Leagues, so vital for continuation of the football development, didn’t  filter through to the teams when the money was needed.

Who is to blame for the sponsorship money not being given timeously to teams playing in the provincial women’s football Sasol leagues? Is it SAFA who administers the Sasol Leagues and the sponsorship or the sponsor, Sasol?

Women’s football teams in SA are developed and managed mostly by volunteer coaches and administrators from working class communities. These women’s football rarely attract sponsorship or government funding. To get the women’s football teams and clubs started, and to keep them going, its the volunteers who had to use their personal money to keep their teams in the  regional league that has a corporate sponsor.

This season, women’s football teams contested the Sasol Leagues throughout South Africa without their grants being received until August; this, after about four months of league activity. Costs to maintain the women’s football team like transport to away matches, transport to training and referee fees had to be paid mostly by the volunteer officials and coach.

The 2017 edition of the nine regional Sasol Leagues has wrapped but most teams haven’t received their full grants. They have no idea when the sponsored grant money will be received. In the meantime, some of them have taken out ATM and personal loans to keep their women’s football teams in the league, some have used personal family money on their women’s football team, others asked their senior players to contribute payment and some struggled along with community help to keep the club in the league.

IMG_0935This is the horrendous injustice done to women’s football in South Africa.

So what does SAFA have to say about this state of affairs? After all, they receive the sponsorship money from corporate backer Sasol and administer the Sasol Leagues and preach whenever they want to, how they are supporting women’s football in South Africa.

According to SAFA General Manager for Football Business, Russell Paul, ‘as per standard procedure, Sasol Leagues were to receive their first round grants after the first round. The rest of the grant would be received at the end of the league. This is because we have to ensure that all disputes, appeals and any other issues concerning the league are settled. We can’t pay out grant money, then teams leave the league and there is no recourse to recover the money.’

What are you saying here, I’m asking? How must the women’s football teams survive all the costs involved of playing about 15 weeks of league matches before any grant comes through to their team? Would any SAFA or Sasol employee work for 3-4 months without getting paid and still be able to survive? How do you expect the women’s football teams to survive on volunteer’s money?

According to Mr Paul, by 15 September, only 7 teams out of 144 hadn’t received their first grant by end of the first round and the reason those 7 have not received their grants is because they failed to and still have not supplied their bank details.’

Several women’s football Sasol League teams, playing across nine regions are furious about their delayed grants. Most of them are scared to speak out publicly for fear of being victimised. When they ask at metings about their grant payments, they get told ‘not to rattle the sponsors too much because women’s football needs sponsors.’

Yes, women’s football and all other women’s sports needs sponsorship and funding. But how quiet must women’s football stay when they are told they are playing in a sponsored league and will receive financial grants to help them play in the league?

Now, several of the volunteers of the teams need their personal money back; the money they had to rely on to keep women’s football going in SA, this year.

SAFA’s Mr Paul acknowledges all the grants haven’t been paid ‘because of per standard procedure over the years, the 2nd tranche would be paid only when the leagues are finalised.’ Asked when would the grants be finalised for 2017 season, Mr Paul, replied: ‘Hopefully, at close of office in December, – subject to all the judiciary process in the respective leagues being resolved’.

Then Mr Paul added that grants were delayed this year because ‘SAFA’s sponsorship detail/agreement with Sasol hadn’t been finalised until September, this year. We were thus unable to effect payments, as this would be contrary to our governance and audit procedures.  The sponsorship agreement with Sasol was only finalised and announced in September, and within 7 days of the agreement being signed, 1st round payments were made to all teams.’

What are you saying here, Mr Paul? So I’m asking why were you playing in leagues attached to a corporate sponsor when the sponsor wasn’t confirmed? But most importantly, how does SAFA expect the women’s football teams to survive with no money and no grants and develop the foundation of national youth and senior women’s football teams in a year of African world cup qualifiers for girls and women’s football?

Why were Western Cape Sasol League teams told at meetings they would receive their money early in the league but got some money only in August?

Despite what SAFA’s Mr Paul says about the SAFA/Sasol sponsorship deal only being finalised in September this year, the first grants were received by the teams in August, this year. So how did SAFA manage to do this without finalising their sponsorship agreement with Sasol?

In my opinion and analysis, women’s football teams playing in SAFA’s Sasol Leagues have been done an injustice. How the hell does SAFA and sponsor Sasol expect volunteers from mostly working class communities to carry women’s football in South Africa? The grant payments should be paid before the first match kicks off in all leagues across South Africa! Why must volunteers sustain women’s football in South Africa when SAFA has a corporate sponsor?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: