“It’s not as easy as it looks” – Thembi Kgatlana

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Banyana Banyana and Benfica striker Thembi Kgatlana has admitted that for SA Women’s football to have a fully-fledged professional league, more sponsors, different approach, and most importantly financial investment in the women’s game is of paramount importance.

The 12-team SAFA National Women’s League (SNWL) kicked off in 2018 August, Soweto, Nike Training Centre, and the league has been marred with administrative challenges, from travelling arrangements, to match officials arriving late for games. The inaugural national league got underway without and clarification on prize money for champions and no sponsorship.

Kgatlana, who has played for Houston Dash in USA’s National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL)‚ Beijing BG Phoenix in China and now for Portuguese giants, Benfica says the SNWL is a start but a financial boost, professional set-up and proper infrastructure are needed to improve the league.

“It’s not as easy as it looks,” – Kgatlana. Picture: by Damien Meyer – AFP. 

“For example‚ the NWSL took about four to five tries before it could get to where it is because they kept on failing and failing‚ and looking for different approaches and styles of management‚” said Kgatlana during an online press conference of the South African Football Journalists Association (Safja).

“For the NWSL to be considered the best league in the world is not by chance. They have worked hard to be where they are‚ they have invested a lot in women’s football‚ and they are still investing a lot.

“In China‚ you see how financially they are getting a boost. In Europe it combines both styles when it comes to China and the USA. You have your professionalism‚ your nutritionists‚ coaches,” added the Caf 2018 African Women’s Player of the Year.

“Those are the things that need to be implemented in SA. Yes‚ it will take a while. But I think the first thing we need to do is to look at the financial gains,” – Kgatlana. Picture: Benfica.

“Not for the players‚ but for the league. If we can get four or five big sponsors pooling in together‚ I think that would give not only the girls a boost‚ but the national team too.

“Because then the opportunities would be there for the girls to not only work hard for Banyana‚ but also for their clubs,” concluded Kgatlana.

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By Tokelo Martin Mokhesi

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