- Retired Banyana Banyana star Lydia Monyepao spoke to Briefly News regarding her new job with the South African Football Association
- Monyepao says her priority is to ensure they acquire good sponsors for the Banyana side to receive the same salaries as their male counterparts, Bafana Bafana
- The former Banyana team manager says her role is different from the one she held at SAFA because being a COO involves a lot of decision making
- Moreover, Monyepao has reacted to Mamelodi Sundowns championship glory, praising coaches Manqoba Mngqithi, Steve Komphela and Rhulani Mokwena
- Also known as Skillz, the former Banyana player Monyepao has called on the football fraternity to support Kaizer Chiefs in their CAF Champions League campaign
She is one of the most decorated footballers in the women’s game and she has just landed a top job at the South African Football Association. Banyana Banyana legend Lydia Monyepao is a true example of academic excellence coupled with technical know-how in the football field.
She holds a BCom from Wits University, a BCom Honours in Accounting from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and a Masters in Sport Management through Loughborough in the United Kingdom.
After the recent announcement of Hugo Broos as the new Bafana Bafana coach, SAFA also made it known that the former midfielder will take over as the new Chief Operations Officer at SAFA House.
The well-spoken officer took time out of the hectic schedule to exclusively sit down with Briefly News to talk about football and office duties as well as her ambitions.
‘Skillz’ also touched on the new DStv Premiership champions, Mamelodi Sundowns, while wishing Kaizer Chiefs the best of luck in their quest to bag the CAF Champions League trophy. Monyepao told Briefly News:
“I am excited about it but obviously I am a little bit nervous because I know what the job entails and the challenge that lies ahead. So, I am not taking it lightly, and as excited as I am, I am quite aware of what needs to be done.
“I would say I have a more holistic idea of what is required from different angles. From a player’s perspective, from work more like an operational perspective because that is based on my experience in the workplace as well.
“I have been in the corporate for a while before I moved to the sport. I think I know what is required but it will be, every environment is different.
“The last time I was in football, I was a team manager and I was not in a position which required a more strategic thinking, more leadership, and this needs one to be a visionary.
“So, it’s different now and if I take it from a former player, I stand to be more emphatic compared to other people. I know how to be on the field of play and in that way, I can empathise with players.
“I know their efforts, the 90 minutes women is the same as the one for men. The effort required is the same as the effort required to represent the national teams. That’s what helped me when I was the team manager for Banyana.
"Now it’s going to be different because it’s more of senior management level and a lot of decision making will be involved. It’s going to be quite challenging.”
On the issue of equal pay for the men’s and women’s national teams, Monyepao said it will take time because they are still chasing for sponsors to come on board.
“That would be ideal to have the same salaries in the Bafana and Banyana teams but I am not also going to do that right now. It will take time, we need more sponsors for the women’s game and the market is quite dry as far as sponsors are concerned.
“So, we need to go out there and knock on different doors so that sponsors can come on board. As more sponsors come on board, I think that will make it easier and get opportunities to increase the salaries.
“We can always see and ensure we put in money in their pockets, like I said the 90 minutes for men is the same 90 minutes for women.
“It’s definitely something that we need to address, it’s going to take time. If you look around the world, there are many countries that are also experiencing the same thing when it comes to salaries. It’s only about three or four of those countries that pay the same salaries.
“We want to get there but we have challenges to look at such as operational challenges and right now it’s about getting access to quality competitions and if we can do that, then women’s football can attract good sponsors."
On the fact that Masandawana managed to clinch their fourth consecutive league trophy, the University of Pretoria employee also shared a word or two for the new champions.
“Look, for Mamelodi Sundowns, I want to congratulate them for being crowned champions once again and it’s quite rare and they are showed other clubs what it takes.
“They have a championship mentality and that is quite admirable and inspirational to younger players. So, I think other clubs can learn from Sundowns on what is it that is needed to win trophies, especially the championship.
“We are proud of them and I think they are the most successful club in the PSL era that’s remarkable and congratulations to the team, to the coaches, Manqoba Mnqgithi, Komphela, and Rhulani. They have done a sterling job after the departure of coach Pitso (Mosimane). We should not take that away from them.”
With Amakhosi looking to reach the final of the premier continental competition, the Banyana legend has called for more support for the Glamour Boys.
Continued the SAFA COO:
“Coming to Chiefs, we wish them the best of luck in the semi-finals of the CAF Champions League. They are carrying our flag with a lot of pride and they have done well for us.
“May their unity prevail as they continue to raise the flag for us. We need to support them whether we are Pirates, AmaZulu, or Sundowns, we need to rally behind Kaizer Chiefs to see them winning this one. Good luck to them and all the best.”
Speaking about her future ambitions, the retired footballer said her main priority to rebuild the country’s football authority:
“Look, I want to finish my contract with SAFA first, it's a five-year contract, and but I think I want to be able to look back and say I have rebuilt SAFA to become the great federation that it should be.
“I think I look forward to planting the seeds so that everyone can enjoy the fruits. I don’t expect to reap the rewards in the next five years but I want to build and plant so that our players and administrators can benefit from whatever I would have done in the next five years.”
Meanwhile, Briefly News reported that SAFA has roped in Helman Mkhalele as the new assistant coach for Bafana.
He will work beside the newly appointed head coach Broos. Mkhalele has roots with the national team; he played for Bafana in the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations which South Africa won.
Bafana made the announcement via their official Twitter account.
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