President of the South African Football Association (SAFA), Dr Danny Jordaan, says for South African women footballers to be able to compete on an almost equal level internationally, it is crucial to professionalise the Hollywoodbets Super League.
South Africa’s elite women’s league has been in existence since 2019, with the first batch of matches played on Saturday, 24 August.
They started with 12 teams and today there are 16 teams competing for one million rand set aside for the league winners.
Prior to this game changer, the only vehicle for women’s football was the Sasol League which was instrumental in Banyana Banyana’s successes: they qualified for back to back Olympic Games, London 2012 and Rio 2016, as well as the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France. South Africa also grabbed silver at the 2018 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana.
The Sasol League continues to be the conveyor belt for the Hollywoodbets Super League more so with last season’s introduction of the relegation/promotion system in the elite women’s league, which supplies the bulk of Banyana Banyana players .
But more needs to be done.
“As far as the future growth of Banyana Banyana is concerned, we must get the Hollywoodbets Super League to the level of full-time professional league as that will allow the players to focus only on a football career, and not have a full time job and be a part-time footballer because many of the teams that they play against in the World Cup, those players are full-time,” said Dr Jordaan.
Asked how far they are in achieving the dream of a professional league, Dr Jordaan stated that some things needed to be sorted out first.
“The issue with the Hollywoodbets Super League is that the league is not on SABC and Supersport. We have a 16-team league, and we have eight matches every weekend, but only one live match. The other seven matches, even if it’s on live streaming, should be on television – it’s a national league for women. If we get that right, then the revenue will also be better, and the exposure for our commercial partners will be better, and therefore that should help us to close the gap,” he said.
“And there are many other additional values that we must add to the league to advance the value of the property. We have just had a meeting with UEFA specifically looking at the digital broadcast marketing. We are going to have further meetings with broadcast experts from FIFA and I think then we will put together a plan to strengthen the commercial character of the Hollywoodbets Super League, and hopefully that will reach the target to provide the funds for full-time players in the women’s league. We also want each team of the Hollywoodbets Super League to have a junior team to grow the base. Our target is that by 2030 we must have a million or more women footballers in our country, we are already close to 500 thousand and we started off a low base of 50 thousand. So, Vision 2022 has brought us to 459 thousand women footballers.”
Speaking after the return of the Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana from Türkiye, where they took part in the Turkish Women’s Cup, the SAFA President said the team did well but there is still some way to go before being ready for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in July.
South Africa has been drawn against two European teams (Sweden and Italy) and a South American opposition (Argentina) in Group G. Over the past few years, Desiree Ellis’ charges have faced a lot of European sides but perhaps not enough South Americans, including, among others, Chile, and more recently Brazil…
“The key thing is we must get through to the second round and then of course it’s open, it’s a knockout. In that four in the group, you have Sweden who is a former world champion, you have Italy and Argentina and that’s why we played against the Champions of South America, Brazil and I think that was a good exercise for them to understand exactly the level of Brazil – Argentina is not quite at that level but we then have to get them more opposition (South American),” said Dr Jordaan.
“We had hoped that Venezuela will be there (at the Turkish Women’s Cup), we also tried the Costa Rica for them (Banyana Banyana) to play against South American opposition, but this is a matter the coach and the technical director will have to finalize. I think we now have (in our group) two European opposition and we’ve played against the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway so I think they (Banyana Banyana) know what they can expect from European opposition. I think a little more experience against a South American opposition will work out better.”
The next and final FIFA date before the 2023 FIFA World Cup is from 3-11 April.
The World Cup runs from 20 July to 20 August and will be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand.
The four African representatives are South Africa, Zambia, Morocco and Nigeria.
FULL BANYANA BANYANA WORLD CUP MATCH GROUP STAGES FIXTURES:
South Africa vs Sweden
Sunday, 23 July 2023
Wellington Regional Stadium
17h00 local time (04h00 SA Time)
Argentina vs South Africa
Friday, 28 July 2023
12h00 local time (23h00 SA Time)
South Africa vs Italy
Wednesday, 2 August 2023
Wellington Regional Stadium
19h00 local time (06h00 SA Time
This was first published by centrecircle.com by Matlhomola Morake and relayed by kikck442.con as an official media partner.