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As the only female director of the 2010 FIFA World Cup TM, a Football Committee member and the former owner and managing director of the top South African professional club Sundowns, Tsichlas has also experienced her fair share of hostility. She explains: “To be a woman at this level of football is really something, particularly in South Africa, where women traditionally have been treated as second class citizens, and even worse in football. At one stage many years ago, my life was even threatened. But the resistance has since dropped away because of what I have achieved. Under my direction Sundowns won 6 Professional Soccer League (PSL) titles between 1990 and 2000, with the worst placing during this time being fourth. This is the most won by anyone – man or woman.”
For women’s football specifically, the combined strength of Tsichlas at a governance level and Hilton-Smith at the operational level has proven to be a true winner in South Africa. While many national women’s football teams ranked well above South Africa are still struggling to be recognized by their associations, SAFA decided to allocate women’s national team players R 3000 (approximately 400 USD) per game, an amount which can truly make a difference to young women coming from the disadvantaged backgrounds that many of them do.
In comparison to some of the bigger women’s football nations, Banyana Banyana (which means “the girls, the girls”) also generates significantly more media coverage. There is a regular women’s football coverage on the nation’s top TV show, Laduma, as well as live broadcasts of Banyana Banyana’s internationals. In fact, at one stage, South African women’s football also had its own dedicated weekly TV show primetime.