Sports minister surprises Banyana with R5.8 million cheque

Everson Luhanga

After months of disappointing sports fans with weird announcements, Minister of Sport, Arts, and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa has redeemed himself with a R5.8 million cheque for Banyana Banyana.

The minister shocked the nation in May when he announced plans to erect a R22 million flag. He followed this with an announcement to spend R30 million funding a national orchestra.

But yesterday, the minister wrote his name into the hearts of soccer fans.

The government’s cash injection comes as an extra bonus to the R9.2 million from both the South African Football Association (Safa) and CAF.

The minister along with Safa president Danny Jordaan pledged equal pay amongst all sports in the country.

Mthethwa said Banyana’s triumph at the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (Wafcon) on Saturday is the fruit of government investment in women’s football where the government gave R21 million to Safa to form local competitive leagues.

“What you don’t know is that it didn’t start today. Government gave Safa R21 million to form domestic leagues which have produced great players that are in the national team today,” he said.

The minister reflected on Banyana’s Cosafa cup triumph last year as the beginning of glory for the women’s soccer team.

He said the Mamelodi Sundowns women’s team won the CAF champions league which was one of the biggest achievements of the country.

“Many of the players in the Banyana squad today come from the Mamelodi Sundowns team.

“We will continue to support our women in sports financially and otherwise,” said the minister to the cheers of fans who arrived to welcome the African champs.

Mthethwa however still owes R1 million that he promised to the Sundowns Ladies in January, according to FARPost.

Safa president Danny Jordaan said Banyana carried the inspiration of the nation and applauded coach Desiree Ellis and captain Refiloe Jane for a sterling job that has made the country proud.

Jordaan echoed Mthethwa’s statement that the project to build the Banyana team started in 2013.

“In 2013, we took a decision by removing all men from the women’s team. We appointed women in key positions including coaching. We believed in the coach to lead the national team,” he said.

He said the issue of pay parity between men and women in sports is a global issue that needs to be addressed.

Bafana Bafana’s payment structure has the team winning R920,000 each if they were to win Afcon.

Jordaan said there was a need to attach commercial value in women’s sports.

“In South Africa, the men’s soccer national team receives a broadcast value of up to R2.8 billion while Banyana receives nothing,” he explained.

He said Sierra Leone is the only African country that pays equal wages to both women and men in sports and South Africa will take that route.

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