22 November 2017 – Last month saw the South African Football Association (SAFA) hold an extremely successful Extraordinary Constitutional Congress which turned out to be a perfect catalyst for a number of welcomed ideas, ratifications, administrative changes and resolutions that can only benefit the future of South African football.

Attended by high profile dignitaries including SAFA President Dr Danny Jordaan, CEO Dennis Mumble, Deputy Minister of Sport and Recreation Gert Oosthuizen, COSAFA President Phillip Chiyangwa, honourable delegates and key sponsors, this meeting had all the necessary ingredients to plot the way forward and take football to the next level.

All-in-all proceedings were deemed successful and the decisions taken were brave, bold, positive and ultimately on point. Such resolutions are certain to uplift and improve all levels of football within the country and strengthen the game for decades to come.

The first key resolution approved by the Congress was that the body create new administrative posts i.e. Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Both positions are to be filled early next year pending the finalisation of the new organogram (the structure of the organization and the relationships and relative ranks of its parts and positions).

Firstly, the vitally important COO role is long overdue. This particular role will create a perfect balance between the visionary CEO (Mumble) and the execution of strategy and ongoing order of daily business. This key post will enhance strategic management initiatives, keep SAFA’s day-to-day items front and centre, as well as ensure that all key operational activities are executed to perfection at local, regional and national levels. The COO will also help to develop a talent pipeline within the organisation and as all COO’s are tasked to do, be inherently data-driven. Such aspects are vital for running any large sporting body or organization.

Secondly, the CFO position is just as important and will ensure that SAFA’s finances are taken care of nicely. The person appointed here will be able to manage and prevent any ‘risks’ the Association may have, conduct a thorough analysis, advise accordingly, serve as the perfect connector between the organization and data scientists, link non-financial drivers to current financial models and of course handle all funding, sponsorships, new sources of income and much more.

Both posts are critical to SAFA’s Vision 2022 project and will enhance and fast-track it greatly. These were arguably the most important resolutions taken by the Congress.

The next aspect that was discussed and ratified was the creation of a new and exciting Women’s National League. It was decided that this league be made up of all nine provincial sides, Mamelodi Sundowns, Bloemfontein Celtic and of course a USSA team. There are also numerous other PSL clubs that wish to join and partake in this with the aim of increasing the figure to sixteen teams, which would be ideal. Recently a high-level SAFA delegation spent a week in Spain where part of the cooperation agreement between the Association and La Liga was to establish successful women structures.

Again, this is something that can only benefit SA football, particularly the Women’s game. SAFA has always taken Women’s soccer seriously and this will simply be another step towards bigger things. The formation of such a league is what can eventually bring the country a world title. Female teams at all national levels are already performing above and beyond so one can imagine what such an initiative can truly do for the sport. The best Women’s nations across the globe (America, Japan, Nigeria) have something similar in place and with such a league, the country is bound to catch up in no time while also providing benefits to individual females across the nation too (sponsorships, career advancement, recognition, prestige, financial boosts and more). England for example has six leagues divided over two divisions and the benefits are paying off in a huge way. It’s about time that SA builds something similar.

A resolution was also passed for the creation of a Super Cup that will see a single club champion from winners of the PSL League, Telkom Knockout, MTN8 and Nedbank Cup champions playing for the Super title with the National First Division and ABC Motsepe champions. The idea was also consolidated by meetings in Spain and is the global norm in football structures where the FA runs the Super Cup of the country’s clubs.

Again – brilliant! It is about time that this happened and kudos to SAFA for realizing this sooner rather than later. This idea has a number of positive and exciting possibilities. The mere creation of a new Cup competition brings with it financial boosts (ticket sales and even merchandise), the opportunity of a new, prestigious title for the eventual winner and something for the lower leagues (clubs and players) to look forward to and strive for.

Ultimately, this Congress was just what the doctor ordered and shows the effort put in by SAFA in terms of aiming to strengthen the beautiful game within the country and reach higher echelons. It shows an Association not resting on their laurels and always innovating and not procrastinating. Well done!

By: Dhirshan Gobind