African Women’s Football the focus of FIFA visit to South Africa

A FIFA delegation, including Secretary General Fatma Samoura and Chief Women’s Football Officer Sarai Bareman, kicked off an itinerary of meetings in South and Eastern Africa yesterday to highlight FIFA’s commitment to developing the female game throughout the continent. At a visit to the South African Football Association (SAFA) headquarters located at the iconic Soccer City, the delegation met with SAFA President Danny Jordaan and attended a Constitutional Workshop for Gauteng, Limpopo, North West & Mpumalanga provinces. In her address to participants, Fatma Samoura highlighted the necessity to put the group’s talks on empowering women into action by using their voices to help FIFA and CAF raise African women’s football to the highest levels. The delegation then met with staff from the FIFA Regional Development office, before SAFA’s Chief Operating Officer and former FIFA Women’s Leadership Programme alumni Lydia Monyepao, as well as Banyana Banyana Head Coach Desiree Ellis, presented the group with an overview of the current status of women’s football in South Africa.

The SAFA representatives briefed the delegation on how they have successfully linked women’s football to education, with 85 per cent of the national team holding at least one university degree. They also underlined how encouraging their female youth and senior teams to enroll and stay in education has made them more resilient, team-spirited and better able to cope with the pressures of playing for the national team in particular. Speaking about SAFA’s approach to women’s football FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura said: “It is heartening to hear the commitment and hard work you have put into nurturing and developing women’s football and your girls. Education and football play a tandem role in advancing women’s confidence and empowerment.

“There are tremendous strides that we can make together through football to tackle the gender-based violence your country experiences, as well as promoting greater self-esteem among girls and women. FIFA will work hand in hand with you to make this a reality.” Talks also focused on the readiness of the national team for its potential qualification for the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023 ™. FIFA Chief Women’s Football Officer Sarai Bareman said on the subject: “As the FIFA Women’s World Cup has expanded to 32 teams for its ninth edition in 2023, we want to make sure that we not only see South Africa build on their experience at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2019, but other African national teams qualify to reach the ultimate global competition for women’s football. We will work with SAFA to draw on their experiences and use this knowledge to support and nourish other women’s national teams throughout the continent to make this happen.”

Following the visit to SAFA House, the President of CAF, Dr. Patrice Motsepe, held discussions with the FIFA delegation on what kind of collaborative strategies could be put into place between CAF and FIFA to better prepare more African women’s national teams to qualify for the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Fatma Samoura emphasised the importance of more tournaments for women throughout the continent, like the CAF Women’s Champions League, to provide players with more competitive experience. On Saturday the delegation first attended the finals of the U-15 Girls Schools Tournament, a legacy project of the CAF Women’s Champions League COSAFA Qualifiers, at King Zwelithini Stadium, Durban.

This was followed by the final of the CAF Women’s Champions League COSAFA qualifiers attended by CAF’s President Dr. Patrice Motsepe, who expressed the important message of solidarity that the presence of the all-female FIFA delegation at the game sent to African women and African women’s football. The match saw South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns take on Zimbabwe’s Black Rhinos Queens in a decisive match that revealed who would represent COSAFA at continental level. Following her presentation of the winners trophy to Mamelodi Sundowns, who won 3-0, Fatma Samoura said: “Today we have seen talented and skilled footballers who are role models for young women in their communities. "The new CAF Women’s Champions League will allow women’s teams from each of the six CAF zones to hone and perfect their skills whilst simultaneously demonstrating the best of female club football from our continent. It will also allow African talent to gain more match experience for competitions like the Women’s AFCON and Olympic qualifiers, which will better prepare them to qualify for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023.”