Kickoff Magazine editor Sibusiso Mjikeliso tweeted about the magazine's March issue last night -- featuring presenter Minnie Dlamini. According to Mjikeliso's tweet, Dlamini is the "first woman on the cover of Kickoff Magazine". It is a move that left Twitter users and readers of the magazine confused and upset. In a country with a national women's soccer team and award-winning women sports presenters, followers and fans of the magazine do not understand why this is the "first woman" to grace the magazine's cover.
In his editor's letter in the issue, Mjikeliso writes: "I'm sure you've noticed. If you haven't yet, look closer. For the first time a woman has led the cover of Kick Off Magazine. It shouldn't matter, yet it does. If it didn't happen now, then when?"
The Twitter reactions to the magazine's decision answer that question plainly. It should have happened years ago and could have featured women like former Banyana Banyana player Portia Modise -- or anyone in the current or former Banyana Banyana squad -- or veteran sports presenter Carol Tshabalala.
Tshabalala has previously been dubbed the "first lady of sport" in South Africa and has presented on the British "Barclays Premier League Football Today" show. According to Twitter users, her international standing and long career should have been enough for Tshabalala to be recognised and celebrated by the magazine. Ironically, Mjikeliso names Tshabalala as Dlamini's "A-list" colleague on SuperSport in his editor's letter -- saying that SuperSport's decision to add Dlamini to the team is a nod to her "killer combo" of being "a woman [who is] more talented than people give her credit for and [who] just so happens to be beautiful".
Modise was another woman who Twitter users believed deserved the cover feature more than Dlamini. Modise, who retired in 2015, was the first African soccer player to score 100 international goals in her career.
It is an oversight Mjikeliso acknowledges in his letter, albeit in an off-hand manner that feels dismissive at best.
"It's crazy that this took this long. We had plenty chances and, regrettably, we missed it. For that we are sorry. Portia Modise deserved a plaque for the 100 goals she gave us. Stellar servants, Desiree Ellis, Amanda Dlamini and Delisiwe Mbatha probably deserved more from us, not to mention the off-field stars who've brought us the fame we love," he wrote.
More than "probably deserved", it is a glaring oversight and a move that the magazine seems to have justified with Dlamini's looks. After 478 covers featuring men, this was a disappointing way to "make history" as Mjikeliso said of the editorial decision to feature Dlamini.