11 December 2018– Shortly after the draw for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, head coach of the Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana, Desiree Ellis, went on a site inspection to check out where her squad will be based for the first match against Spain.
The trip took her to Le Havre, about two and a half hours from Paris by car.
The first stop was Hotel Barrier Le Royal Deauville, which will be home for Banyana Banyana ahead of the first clash.
She had a chance to take in the view of the sea, and also check out the rooms the team will be using during that period.
Next up was Parc Des Loisirs field in Deauville – the training venue. It is also the one that was used by Croatia for EURO 2016, and still looked in pristine condition despite the winter season experienced by Europe.
The last stop was Stade Océane where the South African Senior Women’s National Team will get their first experience of playing in the World Cup.
It is the home ground of Le Havre FC, which campaigns in Ligue 2 in the French national league, and has a seating capacity of just over 25-thousand.
Ellis also had time to drive around the city to check the surroundings.
“I must applaud FIFA for this amazing experience – it was a real eye-opener. This behind the scenes inspection gives you a sense of how you can plan for the tournament, especially for the first match which sets the tone for the competition. Right now I return home comfortable as to where we will be staying, training and playing. It would have been perfect to tour all three venues but what I saw was just great, and is more or less the same with the other venues,” said Ellis.
“I return home comfortable and with loads of information for the World Cup. All the coaches and team managers attended the workshop before the site inspection, and we were able to ask about team-specific things because at the end of the day the needs of every team differ. But we were well-received and now there is an open line of communication should we need more information. This helps because you go to the tournament knowing what to expect. And it was all-inclusive – media, technical, logistics, medical, refereeing, marketing and many more. I was very impressed.”
Banyana Banyana has been drawn in Group against Spain, China PR and Germany.
South Africa will kick start the proceedings in the group when they face Spain on Saturday, 8 June at Stade Océane in Le Havre.
Next up will be China PR on Thursday, 13 June at Parc de Princes Stadium in Paris.
The last group stage fixture will take place in Montpellier against Germany – on Monday, 17 June at Stade de la Mosson.
The top two teams in the group and the best placed four will qualify for the last 16 round.
The tournament runs from 7 June to 7 July 2019.
Banyana Banyana join Jamaica, Chile and Scotland as the debutants in the competition.
USA are the defending champions.
Ellis is expected to return home this evening (Tuesday, 11 December 2018) and
BRIEF LOOK AT THE VENUES
Stade Océane – Le Havre
Opened in 2012 and will be one of the newest stadiums at the 2019 Women’s World Cup. Boasting a seating capacity of 25,278 for the Women’s World Cup matches, the stadium is most impressive at night when its exterior is completely lit up in blue light.
Stade de la Mosson – Montpellier
Montpellier’s Stade de la Mosson has a seating capacity of 27,310 and its long resume includes playing host to six World Cup matches in 1998. Though it opened back in 1972, the stadium was completely rebuilt prior to the 1998 World Cup.
Parc des Princes – Paris
This stadium will host the tournament first opening match featuring hosts France. The 47,929-seater capacity stadium recently underwent a multi-million rand renovation, making it better than ever for this event.
The venue is located in the south-west of the French capital, within walking distance from the Stade Roland Garros (tennis venue).
It is the home of Ligue 1 club Paris Saint-Germainsince 1974. Before the opening of the Stade de France in 1998, it was also the home arena of the French national footballand rugby union teams.Conceived by architect Roger Taillibert & Siavash Teimouri, the current version of the Parc des Princes officially opened on 4 June 1972. The stadium is the third to have been built on the site, the first opening its doors in 1897 and the second following in 1932.
It host six 1998 FIFA World Cup matches and five EURO 2016 matches.
In 2007, the Springboks beat Samoa 59-7 in the Rugby World Cup at the same venue.
Group A: France, Korea, Norway, Nigeria
Group B: Germany, China, Spain, South Africa
Group C: Australia, Italy, Brazil, Jamaica
Group D: England, Scotland, Argentina, Japan
Group E: Canada, Cameroon, New Zealand, Netherlands
Group F: United States, Thailand, Chile, Sweden