Women's football in South Africa cannot grow without support

Women's football in South Africa cannot grow without support
From ESPN - January 22, 2018

A surprisingly high number of people turned out to watch South Africa host Sweden in a women's international friendly on Sunday, with a conservative estimate of some 12,000 in the Cape Town Stadium.

It is, by all accounts, the largest crowd for a Banyana Banyana game in South Africa, though it should be noted that entrance to the match was free to the public.

But still, that so many people gave up their Sunday afternoon to watch a game live that was also on television, and which came just 24 hours after a similar number of people had come to the stadium to view the local Premier Soccer League derby between Cape Town City and Ajax Cape Town, is telling.

It suggests that women's football is growing in interest and popularity in South Africa, mirroring the same scenario around the world.

Sweden are ranked at 10 by FIFA and a very accomplished side, who ended up winning the game 3-0.

They were given a few almighty scares though, especially in the first half, as South Africa's pace and technical ability saw them create three clear-cut chances that were wasted. That will be a familiar scenario for fans of the men's national team too.

Sweden coach Peter Gerhardsson was generous in his praise for the side afterwards. This was his third game in charge of Sweden and he said none of his previous three opponents, Croatia, Hungary or France, had managed to carve his side open so easily.

But in the end the Swede's greater quality showed and the victory was a deserved one.

More physically imposing than the quicker, but considerably smaller, South Africans, they were tactically more organised and able to bully their opponents off the ball.

Perhaps the biggest difference between the teams though was that the Swede's are full-time professionals, playing at top clubs across Europe, while in South Africa the sport is still amateur. Only captain Janine van Wyk is a full-time professional with Houston Dash in the National Women's Soccer League in the United States, but for the rest they have had to develop their skills as part-timers.


Continue reading at ESPN »