Apr
20
2007
  • Share it:

ACCEPT THE GIFTS

ACCEPT THE GIFTS
The greatest success for Hilton-Smith has been the employment of the first black woman, former Banyana Banyana player and current assistant coach of the team, Anna Monate, as a SAFA coach. For Monate, coaching at this level offers her the opportunity of achieving her goal of taking South Africa to the top. Monate explains, “You see so many talented girls on the streets with the ability to play for their country, but you can see they don’t understand the game. I believe it’s my role to accept the gifts I have been given to help them understand more about football through coaching.”
In the view of Hilton-Smith, the next step is to now see more outstanding young women like Monate move into coaching roles. “it has often not been easy to encourage women here in South Africa to coach, or even play, because of the cultural barriers. From simple things like a belief that it is unlucky for women to play before men, to more serious issues such as men starting up women’s football teams because it was seen an easy way to develop a pool of girlfriends they could use for sex and drop if the women did not concur, have all impacted on the willingness of women to play football. SAFA was able to stop the latter problem by bringing in rules that there must always be a woman in the team management, and initially when teams travel, men stay in one hostel building and women in the other. However, the main barrier to women playing in South Africa still exists, and that is, a woman’s role as wife and mother is seen as the priority, no matter how talented she is. Nigeria representing Africa in past FIFA Women’s World Cup events has certainly gone some way to help increase the acceptability of the sport. Because they have a lot of TV coverage in South Africa, people saw the young Nigerian women doing well and traveling the world, and wanted to do the same. This is why we so desperately wanted to qualify for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in China 2007. we were absolutely devastated to lose the semi-final of the qualifiers 1 – 0 to Ghana in Nigeria, in November 2006, after completely dominating the game.”
Even though Banyana Banyana did not qualify for the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the success South Africa has had in developing the women’s game has been considerable. Spearheaded by the efforts and personal sacrifice of lionesses such as Hilton-Smith, Tschilas and Monate, all women in this country now have a far more favorable environment in which to play and succeed in the game they so dearly love.