PARIS – Following a debut showing at the Women’s World Cup which grabbed the attention of fans around the world, Banyana Banyana will be hoping to keep building the game in South Africa.
Despite their failure to pick up a point in France, in their opening game they briefly led Spain 1-0, before losing 3-1 which made football aficionados take notice. A 1-0 defeat to China followed, before they were outclassed by a powerful German side 4-0 in their final group game.
"We now need to go home and structures need to be put in place for us to grow as a national team," Banyana captain Janine van Wyk said.
"We need to start playing quality international teams in order for us to get to the level that they are at. European teams can travel two hours and they can play a strong opponent, in Africa there are only a few teams that are able to compete against each other at this level, so there is a lot to be put in place. But we are really happy with the way we have performed despite the results. And we have raised some eyebrows I believe.
"There’s a big difference in terms of the level of football, but slowly women’s football in South Africa is growing. They are looking to have a pro league, but it will take time to get to the level of these players [that South Africa faced in France].”
As Van Wyk notes, the formation of a national league on the horizon gives hope to players that they can finally play football for a living. The 12-team league is scheduled to kick off on Women’s Day (August 9) and is a first step to having a fully-fledged professional league.
"There are a lot of positives we can take from the World Cup performance," said Jerry Tshabalala, Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies coach.
"The girls did their best despite the results not going their way, also taking into consideration that our girls aren’t full time professional players. We should be proud of our team. Playing in the World Cup will encourage the younger players to start taking their football careers seriously.”
Fans at home and around the world have sat up and taken notice of Banyana. With the South African Football Association having expressed an interest in hosting the 2023 edition of the global finals, an even brighter future could very well await aspiring women’s footballers across the nation.
African News Agency (ANA)