15 December 2020 – The South African Football Association (SAFA), following a long unity process to address injustices of the past, was incorporated on 23 March 1991.
The body developed a solid structure within South African football and the process is ongoing and ever-improving at LFA, regional and provincial levels.
Various competitions however, have been unfortunately affected due to the COVID pandemic. The Premier Soccer League (PSL) and GladAfrica Championship (NFD) were able to resume while the second division and overall third tier of SA football, the ABC Motsepe League, went ahead with a vital play-off tournament.
However, competitions such as the SAB League, Sasol Women’s League and even the exciting new SAFA Women’s National League (SWNL), sadly had to be cancelled. This had various knock-on effects for teams, players, coaches, administrators and even match officials.
The PSL enjoyed a successful return to action within the ‘bio-bubble’ structure and is still going strong while the First Division is also proving to be a safe environment. Even international friendlies, tournaments and qualifiers have taken place without a hitch. However, what about the feeder leagues and local women’s football?
With the COVID ‘second wave’ officially confirmed by the Department of Health, the situation is still precarious but all parties are grateful for the positive feedback that action will resume in some shape or form in 2021. The only issue remains the actual dates, which are still to be finalised.
The ABC Motsepe League is a key division which has unearthed gems, while the SAB League (U21) comprises more than 1000 local football clubs where talented youth get an opportunity to fulfil their dreams.
The Sasol Women’s League is the country’s premier women’s league with close to 3000 players competing on a regular basis and is the stepping stone to the Women’s National League, which has been hailed as a masterstroke by international media after a successful maiden season. These competitions link directly to the age group national teams and indeed Banyana Banyana.
Sasol Women’s League club Sunflower WFC were in a good space before the break in action and manager Manah Nhlema is upbeat.
“The comeback is always stronger than the setback. Covid-19 is temporary and we refuse to it defeat us,” she said.
With the lower divisions, as well as women’s football, finally receiving some positive news of a likely return in 2021, teams and players cannot rest on their laurels and will need to prepare better than ever before while also ensuring safety for all concerned.
These structures are vital for South African football as a whole and the news of a return is most welcomed.
Au Revoir 2020!