Women’s football in South Africa has been given a boost with the news that SAFA have allocated R10 Million towards the National Women’s Soccer League.
The announcement was made by Danny Jordaan at a press conference at Moses Mabhida stadium and comes as Banyana Banyana continue preparations to compete in the Fifa Women’s World Cup for the first time.
Banyana’s achievement of reaching the finals is made that much more impressive by the complete lack of a formal professional structure for women’s football in South Africa.
Critics of SAFA will point to this as another example of reactive governance of the game in South Africa. SAFA have waited until corporate backers are knocking down their doors to get a piece of Women’s football when they should have been canvassing for such backing years ago.
There is no use crying over spilled milk though, as SAFA sets about establishing a women’s professional league in South Africa.
“If we want the success of Banyana Banyana to continue, then we must have a national league. We want to launch that league after the World Cup, probably on August 9 because it is Women’s Day,” said Jordaan.
“We have already set as aside R10m for this league as a contribution to set that league on its way. To put away the doubts, it is going to happen. We’ve allocated R10m and that league will kick-off.”
The league is set to be a boon not just for women’s football in South Africa but in the region as a whole with players from neighbouring Zimbabwe and Mozambique already enquiring about foreign player rules alongside women’s internationals from Angola and Zambia.
“The amazing thing is that women who are playing in the neighbouring countries like Zimbabwe, Zambia, Angola and Mozambique are already enquiring, are you going to allow foreign players to play in your league? They are waiting for us to say yes. It will bring so much excitement and expectations, that part of wanting sustainable success at the level of Banyana.”
If you thought that SAFA’s backing had emerged from the goodness of their hearts we have bad news for you. It would seem the drive to establish a National Women’s Soccer League has been motivated, at least in part, by the desire to boost South Africa’s chances of hosting the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
Jordaan added: “We’ve submitted the bid for the World Cup for 2023. We have to do two things: We have to strengthen that league in getting it off (the ground).
“Secondly, we did talk to the coach to say, ‘how many of those players will be playing in the World Cup in our country if we are successful’, so that we can have a majority of those players in 2023. We are also looking at the bigger picture.”
Banyana Banyana, whose players earn more than ten times less than their Bafana counterparts, will meet Spain, China and Germany in a very tough World Cup group with action getting underway in June.
It is unclear at this stage exactly when the National Women’s Soccer League will kick off.