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Heroic Banyana plead for corporate support

Now is the time for women’s football to be sponsored fully in SA, says coach after historic title

Banyana Banyana players celebrate with support staff and officials after winning the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations final against Morocco at Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium, Rabat on Saturday.
SAVOURING THE MOMENT: Banyana Banyana players celebrate with support staff and officials after winning the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations final against Morocco at Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium, Rabat on Saturday.


Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis and skipper Refiloe Jane believe their Africa Women’s Cup of Nations (Wafcon) triumph should be enough to sway the SA corporate world to invest in women’s football.

After losing their five previous Wafcon finals, Banyana finally broke their jinx when they beat the hosts Morocco 2-1 to lift the trophy at a fully-packed Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat on Saturday.

Hildah Magaia was Banyana’s heroine after netting a splendid second-half brace, while Rosella Ayane grabbed Morocco’s consolation. 

It is an open secret that big companies have not been keen to invest in women’s football, with Sasol having been the sole Banyana backer for years.

Ellis wants Banyana’s success to open doors for the sponsorship of the women’s game in SA.

“We’ve always asked for more companies to come on board but now we have this [showing her Wafcon gold medal].

“So now we’ve got a lot of people behind us. Now it’s really time for womens football to be sponsored fully in SA,'' Ellis said in her media conference after the match.

Jane agreed, saying this would be the right moment for giant brands to join hands with Banyana to financially support them.

“Fifi”, as Jane is nicknamed, chalked up their success to selflessness and camaraderie, saying this was the best Banyana group she had ever seen.

“I think now we’ve shown with our results. We’ve been on the rise,” Jane said after the game.

“After today [Saturday], I don’t think there’s any better moment for the SA corporate world to come on board.

“This [their Wafcon success] should be the game-changer in SA women’s football.

“We always fought for one another. This is the best Banyana group I have ever seen as someone who’s been in the team for a long time.

“Not even once did we try to put individual accolades before the team.

“We never tried to take the shine away from one another.

“We were a team, more than anything.”

Meanwhile, having personally failed to win the Wafcon title twice before Saturday’s historic success, Ellis says she was always confident that the third time would be a charm.

Ellis was in charge when Banyana lost to Nigeria in the 2018 edition.

As a player, the Banyana mentor captained the senior women’s national side when they finished as Wafcon runners-up as the hosts in 2000, with Nigeria coming out on top.

Ellis asserted she always knew this was finally her time to enjoy Wafcon glory.

“I tried as a player to win the gold ... in 2000 we lost to Nigeria.

“When I looked at something [referring to reports from some local media] it said that Morocco was the favourite, which was OK.

“It said that in the two times that Nigeria was not in the final, Equatorial Guinea were the hosts [and beat Banyana] and I said ‘third time lucky brother’, it [that Morocco beat them] is not going to happen here ... this [the trophy] is ours,” Ellis said.

The 59-year-old Banyana tactician said her charges were as optimistic as she was, and she was a bit worried that euphoria would set in at times. 

“When I looked at the players at team meetings, I almost didn’t want to do team meetings any more because the players were so, so confident.

“They always came in singing and dancing.

“They were so confident and determined even when we lost Thembi [Kgatlana, who left the tournament prematurely due to a ruptured Achilles tendon],” Ellis said.

• Ndebele was in Morocco as a guest of Sasol, Banyana’s sponsor.









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