The situation on this way until 1992 when FIFA welcomed South Africa back into its family for eliminating racism in football. The immediate impact of this reinstatement was two-fold. Hilton-Smith recounts, “In terms of participation, black women then started to join the game in droves and organized women’s football moved out to the townships. Because white women felt that it wasn’t safe to go into these areas at the time, they stopped playing and opted for an indoor version of football instead. This drastic change in player base demographics was strongly reflected in the make-up of the national team, where for many years since mixed-race teams were introduced in 1993, only one or two players have been white.”
The other major impact of the reaffiliation to FIFA on women’s football was at the governance level of the sport. As the whole game in South Africa to that point had been separated by race, the various entities that were responsible for running football in their own specific areas needed to come together to from the organization governing football in the country. SAFA was subsequently born and SAWFA signed up as an affiliate heralding the start of a tumultuous period for the women’s game in South Africa.
Hilton-Smith recalls, “Racial tension was still high, and despite the presence of two black vice-presidents and a number of mixed-race male committee members from Western Province, and myself as the president all working together in harmony, the women’s sector was seen as separatist by SAFA’s new regime. In addition, they were even less comfortable with women occupying leadership positions in football. So the new regime formed a crisis group to try and overthrow the SAFA Women’s Football Committee. Between 1994 and 1997 we were terrorized, absolutely.”
She continues: “Things actually ended up getting so bad that an independent investigation into the whole game was commissioned, because there were also major problems in men’s football. After hearing all sides of the story, Judge Pickard, who headed the investigation, ruled that SAFA had been completely out of line and that women needed to run women’s football in our country. It was a huge turning point for women’s football and also for football in general in South Africa. The full impact of Judge Packard’s decision was delayed a little, however, by SAFA’s decision to disband Women’s Committee and set up a standing committee under their jurisdiction. That was fine in itself but we had no additional representation on the National Executive Committee (NEC). It left us with no voice at the decision-making level until 2005, when they decided to put the chairperson of the Women’s Football Committee Nastasia Tsichlas, back onto the NEC.”