12 April 2018 – The South African Football Association’s (SAFA) timely partnership with petroleum giant Sasol is a key facet of women’s football in South Africa. Established in 2009 the league has grown from strength to strength while promoting women empowerment and gender equality.
Here are a few of examples of how the Sasol League continues to improve and benefit South African women’s football:
Providing a platform for aspiring female footballers
This brain child was primarily brought about to provide a structured platform on which talented up and coming female players can showcase their skills and impress coaches and scouts. With no other suitable alternative, this remains the ultimate medium via which budding stars can ply their trade and make a name for themselves in the footballing world.
Development of talent
The league affords many female players across the country the opportunity to participate and develop in a competitive environment. This initiative helps to identify players for the U17, U20 and senior national teams. It allows coaches the perfect springboard from which to scout youngsters and train them accordingly. Mentors are then able to analyse strengths and weaknesses and work on these while guiding players in the right direction.
Making the female game semi-professional
Being semi-professional also means weekly action for much of the year, thus providing solid overall training and preparation for national duty. The league also acts as a catalyst for increasing the popularity of the sport and women’s soccer as a whole. With talks of a fully professional national women’s league in the works, the Sasol League can take pride in knowing that this is where it all began.
Improving the standards of women’s football
The league had drastically improved the overall standards of women’s football across the country. The cream of the crop participates and this has helped to raise standards to becoming a truly competitive league. With national honours up for grabs, players (as well as coaches and administrators) have had to constantly work hard and improve to be noticed.
“At Sasol, we pursue sponsorships that enhance our brand, inspire creativity and innovation, and create unique opportunities to build stakeholder relationships. As a direct result of our investment in women’s football, the landscape for the Sasol League and Banyana Banyana has forever changed and we are extremely proud of what they have achieved in such a short time”, said Sasol Senior Vice President for Corporate Affairs – Ms Wrenelle Stander.
Even across the African continent, major women’s leagues in Nigeria, Ghana and even the Ivory Coast don’t give the opportunity to as many players as the Sasol League does as their formats are confined to fewer teams.
This league also dove-tails nicely into SAFA’s Vison 2022 project as it is designed to increase the number of people playing football which is one of the projects main objectives. There is also the Sasol League Roadshow where remote regions of the country are visited to promote football, as well as coach’s workshops and knowledge sharing sessions among technical teams.
With the league acting as a feeder system to national teams, the recent awarding of the CAF “Women’s Team of the Year” award to South Africa, is proof of how this tournament is improving SA football. Banyana Banyana stars such as Bambanani Mbane, Linda Mothlalo, Janine Van Wyk and Thembi Kgatlana amongst others are some examples of the success of this league. This competition can only get better and improve standards as well as aid in overall female football development and the betterment of age-group national teams.
Sasol League quick facts:
Comprises 144 teams across all 9 provinces (spreading the game nationally)
More than 2800 competing female players (a large number compared to other nations)
Inaugural winners: Detroit Ladies (2009)
Most successful team: Palace Super Falcons (3 time winners)
R200, 000 – National Championships prize money
By: Dhirshan Gobind