There has always been a struggle to gain support for women’s basketball, it’s always as something that will only happen if the Men’s competition is successful. If you look at any professional leagues around the world, like the NBA , which started in 1946 but the WNBA only started in 1996, 50 year wait. Terrible!!!
The BNL (Basketball National League) has been running for the last 3 years and there’s been no sign of the women’s competition starting. The Sports Minister, Fikile Mbalula, stated that the Women’s BNL will start in 2015 when he launched the BNL in 2013. He also said that “ if we (women) want to play professionally, we should play netball”, this coming from a Minister shows where women are seen in sports that were previously male only.
So imagine my surprise when I turned on the TV to watch the BNL final and saw a women’s final playing, I have not seen South African women’s final on TV in years, I was intrigued and thoroughly enjoyed watching the game. I did have lots of questions though, for example:
- Does this mean National League for women is starting?
- If this is the final, when did this league start?
- Why are they showing Gauteng games only?
- Are the players being paid to play?
I am sure that a lot of players from different provinces had lots of questions too.
Well just to give you the thought/idea behind the Women’s final.
There was a committee that pushed to have the Women’s BNL started but the biggest issue is the funds. The Department of Sports Recreation had committed to 3 year sponsorship deal with BNL, after which it had to be self-funded. Now before you start thinking, if this 3 year deal was for men only, then the next 3 years’ funding should be for women, unfortunately that is not the case. The 3 year deal was for basketball as a whole, the Sports and Recreations Department would cover everything for the 3 years to get the professional league on it’s feet and then BNL should be self-funded. The BNL exec should have then split the funds to benefit basketball as a whole (men,women and youth). Unfortunately, the only people who have benefited from this deal are the men, the women and youth will be put in the back burner as money has “dried up”. Some of the BNL teams have striked during the 2016 season and refused to play due to not being paid.
Going back to the questions I asked earlier regarding the final, see below answers,
- Women’s BNL is not starting yet, this was a pilot to show case women’s basketball and hopefully lead to a Women’s BNL League.
- There was no real league, it was just 4 teams that played (Fierce Angels, Sturdy Stars, Bona Fide Rocks and Lungi Giants) and
- No, the players were not paid.
I would like to thank all of those ladies that played in this 4 team tournament for starting something, it’s now up to all of us in our various provinces to start thinking and coming up with ideas of how the women’s BNL will start and how it will work. Unfortunately it will always come down to finances but I know when women come together things happen. We will have to fight to get things started, which is frustrating but that has never stopped us before.
If you would like to send any suggestions, email firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send all the suggestions to our Johannesburg sisters.
Dlala Mdlalikazi, Ball is life.