Reconfirming the international organisation’s commitment to grassroots football development in South Africa and the greater African continent, LaLiga has once again partnered with Cosafa (Council of Southern Africa Football Associations) to grow the game across all play levels and genders.
In late July, two grassroots women- and youth-centred initiatives were carried out by Cosafa in collaboration with LaLiga. These took place over three days in the Eastern Cape’s Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality (NMBM) in the lead up to the Cosafa Women’s Championship.
First was the Women’s Community Tournament on July 27 – 28 at Gelvandale Fields. This successful tournament dates back to the early 1990s and then SAFA Eastern Province Region.
The event has a long history of recognising the efforts of female players (Over-20s) and encouraging women to pursue opportunities in the sport. Previous tournament participants have gone on to perform at higher levels such as the Sasol League and have even been selected for Banyana Banyana.
Meanwhile, the event has previously helped to home the expertise of women administrators, and passionate advocates for women’s football, such as Nomalungelo Mooi, Ntombekhaya Ntose, Phindiwe Tetiwe and the late SAFA Nelson Mandela Bay vice-president, Nomonde Makuleni.
In 2019, participating teams in the Women’s Community Tournament included KUBS Ladies (NEBFA LFA) and Young Aces Ladies (PEEFA LFA), with KUBS emerging victorious in the final with a 7 – 1 score against Young Aces. Dignitaries who attended the tournament included the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality’s MMC for Sport, Cosafa representatives and the SAFA Provincial Executive Committee.
The tournament was followed by a one-day Youth Festival on 30 July, centred on football skills development for 100 Nelson Mandela Bay children between the ages of 6 and 12. This event coincided with the last day of Cosafa’s four-day D-Licence Coaching Course, where coaching training and certification was available exclusively to women, and delivered by an A-Licensed SAFA Coaching Instructor. The Youth Festival was treated as a key opportunity for the local female coaches to put their newly honed knowledge and skills to the test.
The Nelson Mandela Bay initiatives made it the second time that LaLiga and Cosafa have collaborated. Earlier this year, LaLiga supported the 2019 Cosafa Cup, which was held in Durban from May 25 – June 8. As with that event, LaLiga’s Cosafa support in Nelson Mandela Bay took the form of providing t-shirts, caps, bibs and cones. Branded balls were also given to football-mad youngsters from the community.
Mr Frans Mbidi, Vice-President of Cosafa, said of the collaboration: “We are delighted to partner with LaLiga, to help promote women’s football in Nelson Mandela Bay, and provide players with the opportunity to showcase their talent through the SAFA Nelson Mandela Bay Women’s Month Regional Tournament.”
Mbidi added: “Cosafa shares LaLiga’s desire to leave a legacy wherever we go, and along with the 2019 Cosafa Women’s Championship and Cosafa Women’s Under-20 Championship, this will be another way that we can leave lasting memories for the local communities.”
In addition to the tournament and Youth Festival, other Cosafa-hosted skills development initiatives in the region over the same period include a four-day Female Referees Course and Administration & Governance Workshop for 35 women from Eastern Cape sports councils.
Antonio Barradas, LaLiga Managing Director in South Africa, commented: “LaLiga, is a regular partner of the South Africa Football Association (SAFA), and working with Cosafa is proving to be similarly exciting and rewarding. We hope to continue the fruitful relationship, and see efforts spread to other Southern African nations under the Cosafa umbrella; perhaps even other football associations in Africa.”
Barradas concluded: “Participation in Cosafa’s Nelson Mandela Bay projects aligns with our philosophy, which is as much about giving back to football-loving communities as helping to advance the prospects of people involved in all areas of the game. Aside from helping to uncover the stars of tomorrow, it’s about better-equipping coaches, officials and administrators with vital experience so that local football structures are of the highest standards to grow the game and to further opportunities for South Africans.”