Despite putting in the hard work to represent South Africa and ply her trade overseas, Banyana Banyana legend Fikile Sithole who dedicated her life to women’s football has revealed that she didn’t get paid while playing for Oxaback Marc IF in Sweden.
Sithole is one of South Africa’s pioneers of women’s football as she alongside the likes of Gloria Hlalele, Khabo Zitha and Sibongile Khumalo paved the way for the current Banyana stars. The former midfielder formed part of the first-ever Banyana side back in 1993.
“I didn’t get paid when I was playing overseas, the club manager [Oxaback Marc IF] would ensure we had enough food to last us [with Sibongile Khumalo] at least a month and organised accommodation but we didn’t get paid to play,” Sithole told FARPost at UJ, Soweto Campus Stadium while UJ Ladies were in action against TUT Ladies in a SAFA National Women’s League (SNWL) encounter.
At the end of the season in 1995, Sithole said that she had lost interest, fed up with the situation and decided to return back home as she says it was not worth it to suffer in a foreign country.
Almost three decades after Sithole made her Banyana debut, women’s football in South Africa is still in a sorry state of affairs.
“The current crop of players are afraid to speak up about the challenges and issues they come across, largely because they will be victimized if they speak out. Things won’t change anytime soon, people who are in charge don’t care about Women’s football,” she added.
In the inaugural SNWL, match officials either arrived late or don’t pitch up at all and teams travel thousands of kilometres by bus.
Banyana and SAFA are forever in a dispute over payments with Banyana players having to wait months or fight before getting their hard-earned money. In the Sasol League, clubs receive their grants late – midway through the season.
Then Minister of Sport Tokozile Xasa said Banyana’s players receive a match bonus of R5 000 for a win in an official match, and R4 000 for a win in a friendly match while the players are paid a daily allowance of R400 per day when training with the team.
It was reported that Bafana Bafana players earn as much as R60 000 for a win‚ R40 000 for a draw, but nothing for a defeat.
According to another ex Banyana player, Portia Modise, the daily allowances for the Banyana players has been increased to R600 while in a camp at home and R1 000 away from home – a R200 increase after 15 years.
“When we talk about money, I get hurt because I played football my whole life, I played for the national team for 10 years but I didn’t get even a cent at Banyana Banyana, wherever we went to play, we were promised this and that but nothing happened,” Sithole told iDiskiTV.
“Even the Banyana attire they gave us, they would take it back after games, whether the kit has your surname or not, they took everything back,” added Sithole.
“At national team, I was just playing, we called Banyana a charity team, we were just playing for the sake of it without getting anything.
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“What hurt us the most [knowing that Bafana Bafana were getting paid even when they played badly – losing], we knew the boys were going to make money, they get allowances when they arrive in camp, us we don’t know what an allowance is, we never receive it,” she said.
“And again, what hurts us is that when our playing kit arrived prior to our games, we had to sew the kit as players because the shorts were torn, the tracksuits were too big, these are kits from Bafana Bafana. We only played because we loved and knew football, we were just happy as we were travelling.
“At some stage, I wanted nothing to do with women’s football but then again, I realized there are a lot of things which I change in the women’s game with my knowledge, lessons, good and bad experiences. I am patient and one-day things for women’s footballers will change in this country,” said Sithole who is a qualified coach.
By FARPost Reporter