Portuguese giants Benfica midfielder Thembi Kgatlana believes that with better financial resources and support, Banyana Banyana can be a force to be reckoned with and the nation to beat in Africa.
Banyana have grown in leaps and bounds over the years, qualifying for big tournaments – the FIFA Women’s World Cup for the first time last year in France, made back-to-back appearances in the Olympic Games Women’s Football Tournament in London 2012 and Rio 2016 and also clinched the COSAFA Championship two years running in 2017 and 2018.
Kgatlana says Banyana are getting there but incentives can be a motivational tool to assist the team so, they can only focus on winning “gold” – the Africa Women Cup of Nations (AWCON).
“Yes, I might want to win a gold‚ and a few players might want to win gold‚ and we put in the hard work. But that’s not the end of it,” said the 2018 African Women’s Footballer of the Year during a press conference with the South African Football Journalists Association (Safja).
“Yes, we are slowly getting there. You could see in the 2018 Afcon that we had a will to beat whoever was standing in our way.
“If we can still have the same will‚ yet with a few things being given to us‚ or a few things being handed to us in camp so that we can focus on the gold‚ I think that’s going to push Banyana to a new level,” added Kgatlana.
Banyana were named the 2017 CAF Women’s National Team of the Year at the AITEO CAF Awards, with Kgatlana walking away with the Women’s Footballer of the Year accolade and coach Desiree Ellis being crowned the CAF Women’s Coach of the Year at the 2018 awards.
“And I think as women’s footballers that’s what we yearn for. Especially in African football‚ we don’t get a lot of money from the national team.
“So, if somebody comes to me and says‚ ‘If you win gold you get an incentive of however many thousands of Rands’, I mean‚ that’s motivating enough.
“So we need sponsors to make sure they are going to help the federation to get the girls the things they need to equip themselves to make sure they become better athletes,” concluded the 24-year-old former Beijing BG Phoenix (China) and Houston Dash (United States) player.
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By Tokelo Martin Mokhesi