New Developments On the Horizon For Women’s Football In South Africa? By Cheryl Roberts

28 Sep

In South Africa girls and women’s participation in football, is growing at a fast pace. Custodians of women’s football, South African Football Association (SAFA) understands that with this growth comes the need to develop and advance women’s football and to enable women’s football to grow with the support.

I asked SAFA women’s football co-ordinator, Nomsa Mahlangu, where is women’s football at and Ms Mahlangu said: ‘We are growing. We need to move from where we are with just having regional leagues and the premier Sasol league in all the provinces. We must introduce new competitions to motivate the women footballers. It’s about time we find and host another league/s and competitions to take women’s football to another level’.

Does this mean SAFA could be introducing a professional women’s football league? Ms Mahlangu would not say no or yes to this question. What she did emphasise was that SAFA understood the need to look at women’s football and offer something new for the women footballers. While nothing could be mentioned now, an announcement is expected soon, towards end of 2016.

SAFA recently appeared before the RSA’s parliamentary portfolio on sport and recreation where the state of women’s football was discussed. SAFA are under pressure, amidst criticism they are not developing and assisting growth of women’s football in SA, t deliver a stricture professional league where women footballers can play the game full-time and as professionals. This should enable the women footballers to compete better with their foreign competition.

‘We are definitely working on something for women’s football,’ says Ms Mahlangu. ‘SAFA is looking at adding on some new competitions, perhaps an interprovincial competition involving all the provinces. We want to see developing and emerging talent throughout the country not just in one or two regions and provinces.

The reality of not qualifying for the under 17, under 20 and women’s world cups has hit home at SAFA that ‘something is not right with women’s and girls football’. SAFA is now intervening, with its limited funds and resources, according to SAFA, to implement some changes which will hopefully improve the standard of women’s football.

‘We are not doing enough. We must intensify our junior league programmes.  Seemingly something is not happening at LFA or regional levels, the cradle of our girl’s football development. It’s a wake up call for SAFA to look at the situation and act so we improve the state of women’s football in our country and SA gets to qualify for women’s world cups’.

Asked about the disappointing performances emanating from the R6million a year high performance center in Pretoria, where South Africa’s youth women footballers are based full-time, Ms Mahlangu agreed that it needed ‘scrutiny, assessment and possible overhauling so the high performance programme reaps the results we want.

‘We can do better. What we getting out should be much better

We have regressed, not progressed much. At this moment, women’s football is not looking too good and healthy. Before someone else tells you something is wrong, we need to be honest with ourselves. We need to know what is wrong, and then we can implement change. As a start we must begin to change mindsets’, said Ms Mahlangu.

Asked about what I term a cabal controlling women’s football

In SAFA, Ms Mahlangu said she ‘didn’t want to raise this in a publication but would be raising some concerns about this within SAFA’.

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