It has been over a week since Banyana Banyana won the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON), but the champions are still in awe. That’s according to conditioning coach Ridhaa Allie, who said the experience was “indescribable”.
The South African women’s soccer team beat hosts Morocco on Saturday (23 July). They have since returned home to much excitement.
Exultant crowds gathered at the O.R Tambo International Airport, Ekurhuleni, warmly welcomed them before President Cyril Ramaphosa received the champions at the Union Buildings.
Allie said it was a rollercoaster of celebration from the moment Banyana Banyana won until they returned to their loved ones. However, he said, it was the sight of their impact when they returned that “makes it all worth it”.
“I came home today [Friday], back to Cape Town. That is the final celebration. I think for all of us to come to our loved ones, come to our family [after] a long time… Coming home to them and seeing what it means to everyone in Cape Town and seeing how it inspires the younger ones just makes it all worth it,” he said.
“We celebrated as a team. Coming out at the airport and seeing the celebrations of the country, I don’t think words can describe everything that happened. The energy around there was… like… I can’t describe it. Those goosebumps are still going through my body; seeing everyone smiling [and] seeing how happy we can be as a country, I think that is just amazing.”
Added to their excitement, the 23 Banyana Banyana champions have each been awarded bursary opportunities from the University of South Africa (UNISA). The university hoped the gesture would inspire youngsters to believe in sport.
“We hope that in the same manner that Banyana have inspired the nation: this small gesture will inspire young girls and boys to believe in sport, virtues of discipline and excellence, and that there are long-term benefits and rewards associated with such virtues,’’ said Unisa Vice-Chancellor, Prof Puleng LenkaBula.
Meanwhile, the Limpopo provincial sports department awarded each of the five players from the province R100 000.