23 March 2018 – One of the key focuses of the Future Champions Gauteng campaign is to empower women, both on and off the pitch, and now in its 10th year there have been plenty of successes to look back on over the previous decade.
Thousands of girls in the Gauteng Province have had their skills assessed in the Future Players programme that seeks to unearth new talent and give it a platform to shine.
Some of those have gone on to feature not just for prominent club sides in the Province, but in the case of Refiloe Jane, captain South Africa at the very highest level.
The campaign has this year gone a step further, adding a women’s competition to the mix. The final was staged after the semi-finals of the Future Champions Gauteng International Tournament at the Nike Football Training Centre in Pimville, Soweto on Friday, 23rd March.
It featured SAFA Johannesburg and SAFA Tshwane, who won their places in the decider with victories at the recent Future Champions Gauteng Cup.
The clash ended in a 2-2 draw, before Johannesburg won the penalty shoot-out 4-2.
Modiegi Mashau and Lethabo Ledwaba netted for Tshwane, while Isabella Ludwig and Vuyo Zabanisa were on target for Johannesburg.
Zabanisa was a winner of the Future Player Talent Search last year and won herself a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Spain, courtesy of LaLiga.
“It is amazing to see the girls getting an opportunity in the Future Champions Gauteng campaign and with women’s football on the up in South Africa, we hope to see even greater participation in the future. The Future Players Talent Search has already unearthed some special talent and I have no doubt will continue to do so in the future. Congratulations to everybody involved on 10 successful years,” said SAFA technical director of women’s football, Fran Hilton-Smith.
For Jane, who competed for South Africa at two Olympic Games, it is gratifying to see a new generation of women’s footballers given the opportunity to follow in her footsteps and make a career out of the game.
“Winning the Future Players Talent Search really kick-started my career and gave me so much confidence to believe that I can play for a top local side and even internationally,” Jane says.
“It is a great platform that empowers young girls to showcase their talent and seen by coaches. There is so much talent, not just in the Gauteng Province, but in all of South Africa, and it is programmes like this that help us to unearth our potential.
“I hope I can be an inspiration to other girls that you can achieve your dreams with hard work.”
It is not just the players who have benefited from the talent search though, with coaches being put through their paces and over the years approximately 50 percent of participants have been women.
But it is not only on the pitch and in the dug-out where the campaign has played a role in empowering women down the years.
The Future Champions Gauteng campaign has backed women-owned companies as service providers across all sectors, creating jobs for black women in all regions of the Province.
The youth and student volunteers are also predominantly women looking to gain experience in the field of sports management.
The tournament is organised by Global Sports International in conjunction with Gauteng’s Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation, and Department of Education, as well as the South African Football Association.
Other sponsors include Sedgars Sport, Clinix, LaLiga, Gauteng Coaches and the City of Joburg.
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Issued by: Maggie Sekoto
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On behalf of: Global Sports International (GSI)