SAFA’s Proposed National Women’s Football League Is Already Disappointing……By Cheryl Roberts

1 Oct

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There’s been excitement amongst women football players in South Africa since SAFA’s announcement to commence a national league for women’s football. Such league is long overdue and of course is keenly awaited. Women’s football teams want new competitions and higher levels of lay to develop their football skills and show their football prowess. Most importantly, women footballers also want to play in a professional league and earn a salary from football – just like men footballers.

SAFA recently completed a nationwide roadshow, headed by SAFA’s women’s football head, Ria Ledwaba to discuss with women’s football clubs, the proposed structure of the national league. Seemingly, it was about having conversation and discussion to reach agreement about the national league’s structure. This being the first national league of its kind to be established in SA, much anticipation awaits the league and subsequently awaited the national roadshow discussions in all 9 provinces.

But then again, why did SAFA bother to undertake this national roadshow, that promised so much but left women’s football clubs more disappointed about the proposed league.

If the league proposals are anything to go by, SAFA has already decided on its format. That this will definitely have a men’s PSL connection by giving automatic entry into the league to two clubs who are PSL connected; that being Sundowns and Bloemfontein Celtic.

 

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It’s this PSL connection that is bothering! Why is SAFA intent on kicking of the women’s football national league with a men’s football connection when over 90% of PSL and NFD teams have never bothered about advancing women’s football by having women’s football teams. SAFA’s argument for such is that the PSL connection will be easier to attract sponsors because branding will already be in place. SAFA CEO has also stated that should it be a 16 team league, then four other places would be allocated to PSL teams. But these teams don’t exist, whereupon women’s football teams funded, supported and developed by volunteer coaches and managers have been existing for years, been playing in the provincial leagues, playing in the national play-offs and performing.

Already this women’s football national league is seemingly getting started on a wrong footing. Leave out the PSL connection. Men’s football has thrived and got the sponsorship in SA whilst women’s football has been neglected, at times marginalised and at most times given just a bad deal. SAFA officialdom seems to think that by connecting the women’s league and the PSL teams, it would be easier for the women’s teams to get publicity for the league to be branded and get sponsorship. Since when has men’s football prioritised women’s football over men’s football clubs and teams? Men’s football teams concentrate on men’s football. Ask Sundowns women’s football team if they get any salaries like the Sundowns men’s team? No they don’t!

Going back to the proposed national league structure with the already specified inclusion of Bloemfontein Celtic and Sundowns……Get this! These two teams are champion teams and should gain entry just for being championship winning teams. They can stand alone and on their own when it comes to qualification for a national league.

For this national women’s football league to get underway and be successful, women’s football must be prioritised. In all sports we see how men in the sport get the sponsorships and get favoured whilst the women are always begging for more and lagging behind, hoping they will be thought of. This same is likely to happen with the women’s football national league teams. When resources are tight in the football club, then it’s going to be the men’s team that will be looked after with the women team having to do with the little resources.

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To get back to the national roadshow……women’s football teams have seen thru SAFA and say that SAFA already has its proposed structure chosen. All they want done now is for it to be endorsed so SAFA can say they consulted and engaged discussion on the national league. Meantime, most women’s football teams are unhappy with the automatic entry given to two PSL connected teams, to start off with. Then they are not in agreement with a possible PSL connection of 4 other teams as this is making some teams already getting possible connection with PSL teams like Wits and Amazulu. What about team identity, building the women’s football teams all the years, asks some involved with women’s football teams?

 

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SAFA’s proposed national women’s football is supported by women’s football teams and all who want women’s football in SA to grow. But this league should be independent from men’s football clubs, for women’s football to be prioritized without having linkages and depending on the resources available in men’s football clubs. A women’s football national league must be funded, sponsored and support to support women’s football to be independent and generate growth of the game for girls and women in football.

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