Sports ministry pushing Safa to make women’s football professional

The ministry of sports, via its deputy minister Nocawe Mafu, says it will hold the South African Football Association (Safa) accountable for the professionalisation of women’s soccer in the country. 

After Banyana Banyana won the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco, there were calls to speed up the process of turning women’s football in SA into a full-time vocation. But the calls were only reduced to a talk-shop, with women players having to keep their 9-to-5 jobs. This, apparently, was one of the reasons why the SA government did not give financial guarantees to Safa when they launched their bid to host the 2027 Fifa Women’s World Cup.

“We will make sure we hold Safa accountable for professionalisation of women’s football as government,” said the fiery Mafu when Sports Minister Zizi Kodwa addressed the media on a variety of other new developments in Pretoria on Tuesday.

“The importance of making women’s football is linked with professionalisation. We meet Safa and other federations to give us reports and we are going to ask Safa how far they are about this, and we are not going to drop the ball. We are going to ask them the questions – this is very critical. Last week Thursday, we told them we need an in-person meeting with them. The meeting [last week] was held virtually for me and the Minister. We are going to ask for things like programmes and times frames around women’s football. That meeting must happen before we go on Christmas” added Mafu.

Call for speedy implementation

Even Safa acknowledges the kind of effort and speed they’ll have to show with issues of women’s football in SA.

“This work must focus on growing the game locally for girls, developing a professional women’s league and creating an effective pathway for girls to become world class football players,” Safa said in their statement when they announced their withdrawal from the bid processes.

“It is to be noted that Safa has already reaped the benefits of this programme as Banyana Banyana are the champions of the continent, and Mamelodi Sundowns are the CAF Women’s Champions League title winners for the second time in three years. It is also worth noting that Banyana Banyana made history at the 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup by qualifying for the Round of 16 after beating Italy 3-2 in their final group match. This gives us a good base in the pursuit of achieving in all of our women national teams,” the Safa statement reads further.

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