/ 21 January 2019

Banyana paid: Now it’s on to the football

Team spirit: At the African Women’s Cup of Nations
Team spirit: At the African Women’s Cup of Nations, Desiree Ellis’s cheerful charges finished as runners-up, qualifying for the Women’s World Cup. (Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix)

On Saturday, Banyana Banyana woke up in their Cape Town hotel with one thing on their mind: a football match. This is a simple privilege they’ve evidently been denied in recent times as late payments have plagued the setup.

On Friday, fortunately, they received what was owed.

The day before, the Mail & Guardian had reported that the women’s national team players were yet to receive over R2-million in bonuses promised by the South African Football Association (Safa) for their performance at the Africa Women Cup of Nations in early December. An excellent second place finish guaranteed each member of the squad about R112 000 but most were still due about R75 000. 

Safa dedicated the second half of its press conference on Friday to addressing the reports of nonpayment and acting chief executive Russell Paul confirmed that the bonus had been paid that day.

“The players obviously would have liked it earlier‚” he said, “and in fact, I can confirm that the payment will in fact be made today (Friday).”

The most interesting aspect of the presser, however, was that senior players now spoke openly about their displeasure at the predicament.

“There was a large amount of unhappiness due to the late payment,” striker Jermaine Seoposenwe confirmed. “We felt disrespected as players, as there was no communication. As players, we don’t want to go into games of this magnitude with unhappiness.”

Last-minute attempts to ease the frustrations in the camp were clearly not ideal and Thembi Kgatlana called for better communication in the future.

“We felt disrespected‚ but we were happy that the CEO came to see us as soon as we spoke to the manager and we were pleased with the assurances he gave us,” the African Women’s Player of the Year said.

“Communication would have helped to put us at ease before we came to camp though and moving forward that is something that needs to be better.”

Putting the debacle to rest allowed the team to focus on football on the weekend. They put in a strong display against the seventh ranked Netherlands – perhaps slightly unfortunate to go down 2-1 after sustained second-half pressure.

The performance is arguably another notch in what has been a firm upward trajectory in the last year.

With the World Cup only a few months away, and after all the hard work already put in, the side could ill-afford to “go into games of this magnitude with unhappiness”.

Banyana will take on Sweden, another giant of the European game, on Tuesday at 7pm. Last year began with a 3-0 hammering to the world’s ninth ranked team. Now, with a year of success in their pockets and their payment woes behind them, our women will look to show the world what they really have to offer.