21 August 2019 The South African Football Association (SAFA) convened a successful Women in Sports Conversation on Wednesday (21 August) in Johannesburg; the first of its kind.

With Supersport football presenter Carol Tshabalala as the Programme Director – speaker after speaker spoke about ways and means to get more women involved in sports.

The main discussion point was to deal with issues pertaining to Women in Sport, in particular football, under the #ITSUPTOME.

On the panel, among others, were MEC for Gauteng Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation, Ms. Mbali Hlophe; SAFA President Dr Danny Jordaan; SAFA Vice Presidents Gay Mokoena and Ms. Ria Ledwaba; La Liga Women’s Football Director Pedro Malabia; Member of the CAF Women’s Football Organising Committee, Ms. Jaqueline Gertze; National Lotteries Commission CFO Ms Xolile Ntuli; COSAFA Secretary General Ms. Sue Destombes; SASOL Marketing Manager Ms. Nozipho Mbatha; SASCOC COO Ms. Patience Shikwambana; Chairperson of the South African Women in Sport Foundation, Ms Ntambi Ravele; President of Netball South Africa Ms Cecilia Molokwane and President of Federation of African University Sports (FASU) Ms. Nomsa Mahlangu.

“This is a great initiative, and the good thing is that it comes at a time when SAFA is about to launch the SAFA National Women’s League this weekend. I would like to thank the participants for this thought-provoking gathering which I believe will go a long way in sorting out some of the challenges we have in women sports,” said Dr Jordaan.

“But I would also like to bring to your attention that before we can do anything else, we must acknowledge that disparity with women is a societal problem and we must legislate it to make sure our sportswomen can thrive. Also, the upcoming SAFA Women’s National League will not succeed if broadcasters don’t come on board. Broadcasting the league will bring sponsors to the party,” he added.

The MEC concurred, adding that they have made it their mandate to ensure the success of women in sports.

“If you look at the current Sports MECs around the country, all of them are women – and that is a clear indication that we are serious about women’s participation in sports. We are here to affirm that we will provide all the support needed for this league to be a success. We are proud and honoured to have been invited to this event and I believe we should have more of these so that our sports women can succeed,” said MEC Mbali Hlophe.

La Liga congratulated SAFA on the launch of the new league and vowed to assist where possible.

“As La Liga, we want to congratulate SAFA for the launch of their National Women’s League. This remarkable step will improve women’s football and will position South Africa as one of the game changers globally,” said La Liga’s Pedro Malabia.

“Furthermore, we are looking forward to exchanging our knowledge and implementing new projects with SAFA that will further assist in developing women’s football in Spain and South Africa.”

Also in attendance among others were Banyana Banyana Head Coach Desiree Ellis, Jessica Motaung of Kaizer Chiefs, former Director of Women’s Football at SAFA, Ms. Fran Hilton-Smith and former Banyana Banyana players.

“I want to believe this is a ground-breaking event. As women in sport, in particular football, we want to see women do well. What remains is that we need to get into implentation mode. I am greatly inspired to see this visionary event taking place and hope we will have many more of these conversations,” said Ms Ledwada.

“I would like to thank everyone who took part in the first ever Women in Sports Conversation. Thanks to all the speakers and everyone who attended and I can assure you, you will be hearing from us again as we plan another one which will be bigger and better.”

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has been keeping an eye on the proceedings.

“The launch of the National League in South Africa is what football, not just in this country but the entire continent needs. The more women’s football leagues we have the more pressure it will put on CAF to focus on women’s football development, and the better our continent will perform around the world in major competitions. We are very excited about this move by SAFA and can only wish them all the best,” said Gertze of CAF.