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“Welcome home champions of Africa”

CYRIL RAMAPHOSA

“TODAY our hearts are bursting with pride.

“You promised you would bring the cup home, and you have brought it home.

 “Five times you came close but were denied victory. And now you have claimed it and reached the pinnacle of African women’s football.

“When you took to the pitch in Rabat on Saturday night, we, the South African people, were there in heart and spirit, cheering you on.

“The good news of your win was like rain falling on dry and parched ground.

“Our road to victory has not been an easy one. There have been upsets, injuries and other disappointments.

“The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted your preparations.

“And yet you persevered.

“No matter how great the setback or the obstacle in your path, you overcame them. Every South African is inspired by your determination to never give up, and to try, try and try again.

“With your victory in Morocco, South Africa has become the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations champions for the very first time, and it will not be the last. We have no doubt you will do us proud next year in the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

“And today we do so to honour you and to thank you for representing our country with such distinction.

“Since the dawn of our democracy, we have welcomed our nation’s finest here at the Union Buildings – sportsmen and women, political leaders, authors, community activists, artists and musicians.

“To our national coach, Ms Desiree Ellis, thank you. Your skills, professionalism and integrity led the Banyana Banyana to victory.

“To the team captain, Ms Janine van Wyk, thank you for your able leadership and for keeping the team focused and on course.

“They were trailblazers, as are you. They were pioneers, as are you. They were role models, as are you.

“They were symbols of resilience and determination, as are you.

“As we prepare to commemorate the women’s march in two weeks’ time and observe Women’s Month, we recall how the pioneers of 1956 lit the path for future generations of South African women and girls. 

“Sixty-six years ago, thousands of women marched on the Union Buildings in a show of defiance against apartheid.

“When the final whistle blew in the stadium last Saturday, it was the end of a well-played game.

“But for us watching back home, it was just the beginning.

“You have fired up the dreams of the young women of our nation – in Meadowlands, New Brighton, Upington, Salt River, Umlazi, Galeshewe and many other places across the country.

Because of your victory on the pitch, they too will strive to become what you have become, to persevere as you have persevered, to reach for the stars and to become stars.

“Welcome home, Champions of Africa.

“Congratulations @Banyana_Banyana. We are immensely proud of you and all that you have accomplished. This is only the beginning. Well done.”