Banyana Banyana’s qualification for the FIFA Women’s World Cup could be the catalyst that women’s football development in the country has needed. Two former players, who were team-mates of current Banyana coach, Desiree Ellis, have taken it upon themselves to form a football academy for young girls. They hope their experience and knowledge of the game, will add value in ensuring women’s football grows to greater heights.

Fikile Sithole and Sibongile Khumalo were key players when they represented Banyana Banyana back in the days. They competed in regional and continental tournaments.

Although they enjoyed some success with the senior national team, they were unable to qualify for major international events. Despite all of that, the impact they made has contributed to what the current generation has achieved. Sithole says that the wait has been worth the while.

“We playedm for Banyana Banyana, we tried and tried but we didn’t succeed. But now I think it came at the right time, it was the right time for them to qualify. I think now we are ready, we are going to surprise most of the countries.”

Sithole and Khumalo have continued to make a difference in society through their community involvement. They are currently coaching a women’s team in Soweto and admire the talent they have at their disposal.

Women’s football participation is on the rise and through structured coaching, they believe the country is making good progress. The two have recently improved their skills and knowledge through coaching courses provided by the Betway 12th man initiative. Sithole says that they can now focus on development.

“It’s easy for us to create good players and to compete with the other countries like your Brazil, France and Germany if we can focus more on development; especially when the under 17 and 20 qualifying everyone can see that we are getting somewhere with development.”

Banyana will open their 2019 World Cup account against Spain on Saturday. The players will go on to fulfil their dreams while thousands of young girls will watch with admiration; hoping that they too will one day be able to emulate their heroines.