Coach: Too few playing overseas

Mkhonza shows concern about lack of development in women’s football, saying Germany’s model is best

Banyana Banyana coach Joseph Mkhonza is concerned about the small number of local female footballers playing club football overseas.

At the moment, only four Banyana players ply their trade abroad and, according to Mkhonza, this is not good for the progress of women’s football and that of the national women’s team.

“Playing overseas brings much-needed experience to the national squad, but my worry is that we have very few who do so,” he said.

“First World countries have some intense professional women’s leagues and the more we export our girls, the more they will get much-needed expertise and get even better.”

Mkhonza believes the country’s failure to invest in developing female players from a young age is to blame for this plight.

He warned that the problem is not going to disappear until more attention is given to encouraging schools to prioritise girls’ participation in football as early as primary school.

“In Germany, for instance, girls start playing football at the age of five and their dominance at the higher level bears testimony that proper development is key,” said Mkhonza.

“That should be the way to follow for South Africa if we want to be among the best in the world, but I’m positive the Safa (SA Football Association) technical master plan seeks to tackle that challenge head on.”

According to Mkhonza, the public perception that football was not a female sport was another contributing factor discouraging young girls.

Parents needed to move with the times and give girls the freedom to play the sport of their choice, he said.

With influential senior players like Portia Modise and Noko Matlou reaching the end of their playing careers, Mkhonza was looking to recruit new talent for Banyana.

But this did not mean senior players were being purged as the team “cannot do without experience”, Mkhonza said.

“It is important that we rope in new and young players to the team, but also keep seniors so they can guide the new ones.”

The man known as “Skheshekheshe” from his playing days at glamour club Kaizer Chiefs added that this would ensure a smooth transition and move the team forward without interrupting the team’s rhythm.

Banyana Banyana have recently been the best national football team as the nation has been consistently disappointed by Bafana Bafana, the men’s senior national soccer team, and junior teams at international level.

On the other hand, Banyana, with much less financial support than their male counterparts, hoisted the South African flag high by making the final of the African Women’s Championship and reaching the Olympic Games for the first time.

» Meanwhile, Robyn Moodaly became the latest addition to the overseas brigade when she jetted out of the country yesterday to Littleton, Colorado, in the US.

She is joining Colorado Rush in the US Women’s League on a contract until August.

Moodaly, a Pretoria High Performance Centre graduate, will join compatriots Roxanne Barker (Pepperdine University, California) and midfielder Kylie Ann Louw (Stephen F Austin University, Texas) who are already in the US.

The midfielder has 15 Banyana caps and was a key member of the Under-17 women’s national team that participated in the Fifa U-17 Women’s World Cup in the Caribbean in 2010.

She was playing for Banyana captain Janine Van Wyk’s club Mondeor-JVW in the Gauteng Sasol League before her departure.

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