16 January 2019 – Minister of Sports and Recreation South Africa, the Honourable Thokozile Xasa, hosted the Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana to a breakfast in Cape Town earlier today.
The Minister handed out three Recognition Awards certificates – for head coach Desiree Ellis for winning 2018 CAF Women’s National Team Coach of the Year; Thembi Kgatlana for the Goal of the Year and Woman Player of the Year awards, as well as Banyana Banyana for doing so well in recent months, ending up with them finishing second at the 2018 Women’s AFCON, which led to their qualification for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup scheduled for France in June.
The breakfast was attended by the President of the South African Football Association (SAFA) Dr Danny Jordaan.
“We are here to celebrate you, not only because you were selected as the Team of the Year at the 2018 South African Sports Awards, but for having inspired and uniting a nation, reminding us that we all have a collective claim in this country – that we are all South Africans. You are going to remembered as icons of your generations,” said Minister Xasa.
“To you Desiree, we are also here not to celebrate you as the best woman coach in Africa, but for breaking the patriachal ceiling, and to you Thembi, you have won the hearts of many soccer loving people in our country, congratulations once again for being selected Africa’s Woman Player of the Year for 2018.”
The Minister also announced that her department has reserved money for upcoming Women’s Professional Football League.
“As the Department of Sport and Recreation, we will in the next five years avail 5-million-rand towards the Women’s Professional League,” added the Minister much to the applause of the gathering.
Minister Xasa also dedicated her time to accompany Banyana Banyana to Dreyden Street Primary in nearby Salt River, the former school of head coach Desiree Ellis.
The Minister and the players interacted with the young pupils for about an hour and handed over a football kit to the school principal and an autographed jersey of the squad.
Banyana Banyana will play Sweden in a practice match behind closed doors at Athlone Stadium on Thursday, 17 January.
Shortly after that (Saturday, 19 January), South Africa takes on Netherlands in an international friendly match named the Winnie Mandela International Challenge. This will be followed by another fixture against Sweden three days later (Tuesday, 22 January 2019) known as the Albertina Sisulu Centenary Challenge.
Both games are at the Cape Town Stadium at 15h00 and 19h00 respectively.
The three nations are using the matches to prepare for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Entry to the games are free but fans need tickets to gain access into the stadium, and these can be collected at Computicket, Shoprite and Checkers.