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Portia Modise Stokes Racial Fires in Women’s Soccer

Former Banyana Banyana Captain Portia Modise says “Coloureds got no jam” and accuses African Champion and Coach of the Year 2023 Desiree Ellis of preferring Coloured players

Former Banyana Banyana Captain Portia Modise, is at it again. After years of making silly comments about her then coach Vera Pauw she has now turned her attention to African Champion and Coach of the Year 2023, Desiree Ellis, accusing her of preferring Coloured players.


Every now and then some ex-sports person looking for a coaching job will say something utterly stupid in desperation and frustration for not being able to land that cushy position. Portia Modise, the former Banyana player has now joined that list with her comments that coach Desiree Ellis “prefers Coloured players” and that they have “no jam,” whatever that means. This is in response to Banyana failing to make it to the Olympics, by losing to Nigeria 1-0 on aggregate in their recent qualifying game. Modise has long uttered such idiotic and racist comments and sadly was not taken to task for it by anyone like Kenni Gambo of Koolooma.Com is about to do.


Coach Ellis has transformed Banyana into African Women’s Champions, something the many teams Modise played for never came close to doing. They were cannon fodder for the Super Falcons of Nigeria who beat them up almost everywhere and every time they played. Ellis came in and changed all that, coming within minutes of making it to the Olympics, something Modise never came close to achieving in her entire career. Secondly, this nonsense that Modise speaks about Coloureds got no jam,” must be explained. What exactly does it mean in proper English?


I grew up in a township and have an idea that she is referring to the needless dribbling and standing on the ball, where your main focus is to shibobo and perform all senseless tricks whilst losing 4-0 as was the case with the Banyana team Modise played for during most of her career. Their main aim at the time was entertainment instead of playing to win. They hardly achieved anything but now she wants to coach the most successful women’s team coach on how to play the game she did not do too good at when it came to winning trophies. Her racist comments must be condemned by all right thinking South Africans, especially those who suffered racism in the past. Too often when someone like Modise takes a pot shot at Coloured people, many black and white progressives keep silent, unconsciously condoning this stone age behaviour. This is equally unacceptable. Modise needs to be sent to a diversity management class so she can learn to operate in a normal environment where talent, merit and strategy reign instead of fielding teams based on skin colour. There is no denying that her football skills were sublime but her strategic nuance lacked direction and she is not yet a qualified coach.


Shibobo-ing the opposing team without scoring a goal or winning the match is not a key performance area for ANY respectable soccer team, women, men or otherwise. The simple and clearly defined goal of the sport is to get the whole of the ball over the opponent’s goal line more times than they get the whole of the ball over your goal line and to prevent the other team from outscoring you. That and ONLY that, determines the result of a soccer game. If Modise prefers circus antics and tricks, she should join Boswell Willkie Circus where they are always in need of more clowns. Professional women’s soccer is now a serious game with the current players receiving a cool million rand each last time when they won the African Champions Trophy. In Portia Modise’s time, this was unheard of!


She never said a word when Banyana had White players in the team but since it has become fashionable to target Coloured people, she cannot resist the temptation to take a cheap shot at coach Ellis. This is despicable from a former Banyana captain who has clearly developed amnesia because if it were not for Coloured players like Benni McCarthy, Mark Williams, Delron Buckley, Basil Steenkamp, Lyle Foster, Junaid Hartley etc., soccer in SA would not have progressed as much since re-admission in 1992. We are now African Champions, runners-up, 3rd placed finishers twice and one bronze medal. We also qualified for two World Cups being France ’98 and Korea-Japan’ 02. Our boys, Coloureds included have played at the highest level overseas at clubs like Manchester United where Quinton Fortune and Gary Bailey did good; Porto where McCarthy won a European Championship before lighting up the EPL and ending up as second highest goal scorer in a year many believe he was robbed of the African Soccer Star of the Year Award. Coloured players applied themselves diligently abroad and brought glory to SA just as much as others like Lucas Radebe and Phil Malinga did. We must be very glad that they did not have this “jam” Modise speaks off. It probably was the main cause that her Banyana team lost to almost any team they played anywhere. Too much jam is bad for healthy teeth; no wonder they lacked any bite.

The sports presenter who interviewed this dimwit, should also have pressed her to explain these idiotic and racist comments and she should have been made to apologise or never be used as a commentator again. South Africa is doing its best to build an inclusive rainbow nation where everyone plays a part and is an equal citizen but Modise sounds like those who would much prefer Only Blacks Allowed signs everywhere so they can get into teams regardless of the glaring faults in their playing style. Modern soccer cannot afford that. It requires the mind-set of champions to compete at the highest levels; not the skin colours of white, black, brown or yellow.


However, the biggest irony of it all was that Ellis’s team only had Kaylin Swart as the lone Coloured in the team. Modise did not say a word about the other 10 black players on the pitch who could not score a single goal in the whole 2 matches played but she had a go at Swart, who kept a clean sheet at Loftus whilst her compatriots who were playing up field and to whom the responsibility of scoring goals was given, failed to put even one goal behind the Nigerian goal line. Why the interviewer did not probe her for the unfair comment and racist remarks, should also be looked at. There could be many who think like Modise; these are people who cannot operate in an environment where they are not favoured based on race, tribe and colour. To the best to my knowledge, SAFA does not include Coloureds because they are Coloured just like Modise was hopefully not included because she is Tswana or can perform circus tricks in a professional football league. SAFA, apparently allowed the former coach Vera Pauw, about whom Modise also had much to say, to select the best players available. The records of Modise’s team and Ellis team are like night and day.


Coloureds are South Africans and have as much right to be able to represent their country as anyone else has. History has shown us their talented youngsters possess a resilience and determination which embodies the South African spirit of never giving up and to fight to the bitter end. They do not do friendlies easily nor faff around with the ball needlessly but there is absolutely no evidence that Coloured, White or Black players have certain characterictics or physical gifts that others lack. Perhaps Ms Modise should focus on going back to school to become more enlightened. She sounds way too 30% ‘ish to make any sense. How do you blame people who were hardly on the pitch and not say a single word about those who actually WERE the majority on the field but failed dismally. Those who know her personally often speak about Ms Modise’s grumpy and negative nature; the kind of person who is never satisfied because she thinks being able to nutmeg a team-mate should be the world’s defining attribute when it comes to recognising soccer greatness.

Just as a matter of interest, both Desiree Ellis and Benni McCarthy hail from Hanover Park on the Cape Flats

Modise sounded very much like JMPD Metro Police head Angie Mokale, another racist bigot whose penchant for making racist comments, on the ‘none-employability’ of Coloureds as traffic police, ignores the issue of her departments reputation for extorting bribes from the public. She obviously has no answer for that. She should actually try getting some Coloureds on board as employment equity laws dictate. She may find that Coloureds, got a whole lot more jam than she can handle BUT it is that jam that makes the teams they play in and for, much BETTER not worse. Ask Jose Mourihno how Benni McCarthy lit up Porto’s season as a one man wrecking ball. Kaylin Swarts or Desiree Ellis were not representing Coloureds. They were representing South Africa, a country originally known as Quenaland, home of the Khoi-San or !Xham and !Khwe peoples, Swartz’ and many Coloured people’s maternal ancestors who were the FIRST people here and are the rightful owners of the land if Eurocentric perspectives of land ownership are taken into account.

She and every Coloured have a right to be in any representative side this political construct called South Africa may form to play under its name if they are good enough. If Modise was any brighter and could do more than dribble around needlessly on the field, rather than head for her opponents’ goal, she would be aware of the context of her comments. She may have been very good at times but for someone off her stature, someone needs to address her political ignorance.

We as a nation did not go into exile and struggle to replace Whites Only Signs with Blacks Only Signs. We said South Africa belongs to ALL who live in it and the Land Belongs to whose who work it. The other leftist progressives of her hue may be silent because they are ‘eating’ the same jam, but I do not let pot belly politics make me lose focus.This type of tribalism or racism spouted by Portia Modise is what cost the ANC the Western Cape when Mcebisi Skwatsha, who very much then thought along similar lines, also demanded that ‘Africans should rule the Western Cape,’ thereby inferring that Coloureds, the children of the original humans the Khoi-Khoi, were not Africans. How on earth is such drivel even possible?

Kenni Gambo with Desiree Ellis who is holding her signed copy of one Kenni’s books – Image Kenni Gambo


The repercussions were brutal as Coloureds deserted the ANC which will never ever win that province again unless it forces through political changes that are constitutionally impossible right now. Years down the line, the Cape now wants to secede because of what it says is ‘a concerted effort by blacks to target Coloureds and oppress them by denying us equal economic opportunities’. Skwatsha lacked the foresight to comprehend where his line of thinking at the time would take us as a nation.


South Africa is not a black state nor a white state; rather it’s a unitary and democratic state where all citizens have equal rights. Many people died so this could be so. I am sure Ms Modise knows this BUT she should by now begin to UNDERSTAND IT. Perhaps she must go easy on this ‘jam’ she speaks of. South Africa has no need of needless running around with no clear goals in sight.

Kenni Gambo is an Author with 5 Published Books, a Marketing Guru, a Political Pundit, Radio Personality as well as a successful Musician & Songwriter. Originally from District 6 in Cape Town and having lived in different parts of SA as well as Zimbabwe, Kenni Gambo has his fingers firmly on the pulse of Cosmopolitan South Africa. A member of since the early 2000’s, Kenni also runs his own Social Website

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Written by Kenni Gambo

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