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BY ANITA RANNOBA
The issue of the disparity in pay between Botswana’s sportsmen and women, as it is the case everywhere else, has never been this much pronounced.
When the men’s senior national team, the Zebras, made the group stages of Africa’s ‘glorified continental friendlies,’ CHAN, they were well rewarded for their heroic performances.
In stark contrast, when the ladies senior national team, ‘The Mares,’ made it past perennial nemesis and Africa’s second best team, Banyana Banyana, in the all important Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the rewards were pitiful.
“I am delighted to announce that I have consulted a few prestigious business people to reward the Zebras for a good performance over the past few games.
Our national teams are the pride and joy of our nation. Respect and commitment must be acknowledged and rewarded. Our national teams are entering a new era and wearing the national team jersey with pride and honour is paramount for the success of our country. Our senior men’s National team have played with passion and dedication. The new crop of young players has given their best and continues to be an integral part of our future.
As appreciation, I have raised P 100 000 (hundred thousand) to be shared amongst the players and the technical team for getting us into the second round of the CHAN 2020 qualifier games.
My respect for value added to our national badge will NOT go unnoticed and this motivation will ignite the boys to do well at the upcoming Cosafa 2019 to be staged in Durban,” Botswana Football Association President, Maclean Letshwiti uttered after the Zebras made the group stages of the CHAN qualifiers.
However, when it came to the ‘The mares,’ who had done the seemingly impossible, their amazing performance was rewarded with a paltry P1000 (thousand) for each player and technical team alike.
The pronounced disparity of rewards has now raised concerns as to whether the ladies teams are as valued as their male counterparts.
Football analyst and commentator, Jimmy George, said despite who rewarded the national teams, the system of rewarding should be of a deep concern not only to the football community but also to the whole nation.
“The Zebras ‘male’ team has been a pain in the neck to watch, but as for the zebras ‘mares’ they develop with each game they play,” he said adding that “the difference between the two is just their gender and because of it the association is too participating in gender inequality.”
“Awarding ‘The mares’ with a thousand is an insult to them and a moral destroyer, the thousand they are each given even when added up, will never reach half of hundred thousand given to their male counterparts. This shows that as a nation we are delighting in gender inequality,” said George.
He furthermore said that the association is killing the fighting spirit in these girls with the meaningless appreciation they have been given. For an historic performance ‘the mares’ produced, George said they could have refused the thousand appreciation money and just continued to play without it.
“I wish they could have refused the money because it belittles their performance. As for the men senior national team, the zebras, they should too take a stand and advocate for their women as well because this is very painful.
George said he discourages what happened and the association is setting a bad example for gender equality because football should advocate for equal opportunity for all.
He went on to call on journalists to advocate for gender parity, saying their silence on the matter only perpetuates it.
“As journalists, we are also to blame for perpetuating this act by keeping silent,” he said.
He said as watchdogs, journalists should not desist from correcting the wrongs that are being displayed in our society.
Commenting on the matter, gender activist and women rights advocate, Game Mothibi said, the disparity shows notion that football is male dominated and women just come on board to add numbers, adding that “it is unfortunate that no matter how much Zebras losses and wins one game they will be praised.”
“It is a disgrace, the team cannot be rewarded with peanuts. Incentives are a morale booster. How will a thousand pula boost the team morale?” Mothibi questioned.
She went on to say even though it is well known that people enjoy male football more, there is great potential in women football.
“With proper resources women football can go far, but no one is willing to give the women league recourses not because they do not have but simply because they are women,” said Mothibi.
She furthermore said, for the coming game between ‘The mares’ and Zambia, to show that it is not that important, the team is training in Botswana, yet for South Africa because they were part of the FIFA Women World Cup they trained in Slovakia. “Why can they not treat each game with the some respect?” she queried.
“We all need to attend women football games, countries are changing and investing more on women sport because they see their capacities and we too need to do the same the sooner the better,” she concluded.