THE South African government has presented the newly crowned national women’s team – dubbed the “Queens of African football” – with an R5.8-million bonus to acknowledge their historic achievement.
SA’s national women’s football team – Banyana Banyana – fresh from being crowned African champions after defeating Morocco in the finals of the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON) tournament, arrived back home to a heroes welcome.
There were colourful scenes at the OR Tambo Airport where soccer fans and dignitaries gathered to welcome Banyana Banyana and coach Desiree Ellis.
At a welcome ceremony at the airport, SA Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa revealed the R8.5-million bonus, to the cheers from the team and the fans.
Mthethwa said the South African government was more than pleased that an investment it had made in women’s football, though the South African Football Association (SAFA) had yielded results.
“In addition to the R15-million investment, we made over the past three years in women’s football and the R9.2-million investment set aside moving forward, today the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture has announced an R5.8-million contribution for Banyana Banyan’s WAFCON victory. Three years ago the Department initiated the formation of the Women’s Football League for R15-million, the fruits of which we are currently seeing,” Mthethwa said.
Danny Jordaan, the President of SAFA, praised the team and Ellis, emphasising that their victory was the result of a carefully executed plan by the SAFA executive.
To the loud applause from the fans, Jordan announced that SAFA was working with the government to ensure that Banyana Banyana would be paid the same as their male counterparts.
Mthethwa pledged to introduce legislation which would force sports bodies to pay male and female athletes the same.
Cyril Ramaphosa, the South African president, is to host the team at the Union Buildings, the seat of government, who have arrived from Morocco. The team is expected to embark on a national trophy tour to enable fans from other provinces to celebrate with them.
Those at the airport at among South Africans from all walks of life who have praised and celebrated Banyana Banyana’s victory over hosts Morocco.
In a message posted on Twitter at the weekend, Ramaphosa said: “Congratulations to @Banyana_Banyana on making history and winning their first ever title at the Women’s Africa Cup of National last night. They promised me that they would bring the trophy home. We cannot wait to welcome you back and thank you for flying the flag!”