Should The PSL Administer South Africa’s Women’s Football Pro League? By Cheryl Roberts

22 May

durban ladies v first touch

Calls and pleas to grow and advance women’s football in South Africa have been roared throughout 26 year old post-apartheid South Africa. In August 2019, SAFA finally got it off the ground and the first kick off of the first match of a women’s football national league got done in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The inaugural women’s football national league had just about wrapped its debut season when sports activities/programmes were called off, shut down and halted leading up to #LockdownSA. It was an inaugural season of kicking into national league action, 12 women’s teams.

That the national league had its challenges was expected. It was an unsponsored league according to SAFA. Although a national league it wasn’t a pro league, again according to SAFA. Most teams struggled along in the national league, sometimes travelling long distances by road transport to play one league game. Most teams couldn’t pay their players a wage/salary. After initially bringing all 12 teams together to play in one region, SAFA gave the national league teams a grant to look after the team in the national league. How much was given was never made public. Apparently, sometimes the grant money was paid late by SAFA and teams had to struggle to play an away game.

Some teams had full-time, paid coaches and additional budgets from their pro club or tertiary institution. Most teams were not club sponsored. Of course, with no sponsor, and just a small SAFA budget, playing the #SNWL as it became known was always going to be ruthlessly challenging.

The second edition of SAFA’s #SNWL was due to start in June 2020, with 14 teams. But now with #covid19 restrictions, we unsure when the national league will kick off again.

SAFA hasn’t released any media information about the #SNWL updates. Will it have a headline sponsor, this season? Will it be a professional league? Will players get paid a wage or salary? Will clubs be able to train and play full-time as salaried players?

But the crucial question is this: Is SAFA able to attract and find and sign a sponsorship contract for the #SNWL? If SAFA is not able to do so, then why doesn’t the PSL, responsible for administration of men’s pro football in SA, take over the administration of SA’s national women’s football pro league?

The PSL gets sponsorship for the men’s PSL. Surely it can get sponsorship for the women’s #SNWL? The PSL manages and administers Africa’s richest men’s pro football league on the continent. Surely it can take on administering what could become Africa’s richest pro women’s football league?

For as long as SAFA can’t get a sponsor for the #SNWL, that’s how long it will remain a national amateur league. This means a litany of struggles will characterise the #SNWL and impede on positive advancement of player and team development. Remember, this national league, for many years under discussion, was being called to take women’s football in South Africa to higher levels. But how do teams/clubs cope when they are faced with more challenges and struggles about money, funds and budgets? How do teams and clubs go forward when they have to prepare for long distance road travel to play a national league?

 

first touch wfc

And now we come to the pivotal question! The PSL in South Africa has always been about men’s football. The PSL has never indicated an interest in administering a national pro women’s football league. Except for very few men’s football teams such as Santos, Bloemfontein Celtic, Sundowns, SA’s men’s PSL teams have shown no interest nor commitment to also have women’s football teams. Does the PSL have the desire and heart to be responsible for administering a sponsored, highly successful women’s football pro league? And the subsequent question: Will SAFA give over administraton of the #SNWL to the PSL, given that SAFA is unable to sign a sponsor for the women’s national league and turn it into a pro league?

This is what it’s about: There is money for men’s sport of professional football. Why can’t there be money and sponsorship for women’s football? PSL chairman Mr Irvin Khoza is known to attract sponsorship and get sponsor contracts signed. Can Mr Khoza do the same for women’s football and turn around the #SNWL from a struggling national league to a moneyed pro league? Is SAFA and the PSL willing to negotiate this deal and take South African women’s football onto its highest level ever known?

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