“Say we win and we ascend to the new league. We won’t be able to host games here (in Richmond). We play on a gravel surface here”
The establishment of a new professional women’s football league has been widely welcomed around Northern Cape football structures, but a few serious concerns around the selection process – including suitability of the sport’s infrastructure which is lacking in most places around the Province – have been raised.
Amichand Amsterdam, manager-coach of Richmond Ladies United FC along the N1 carriageway south of Bloemfontein, confirmed this week that his club was part of the briefing session delivered by Safa vice-president Ria Ledwaba in Upington last month.
Amsterdam said they are generally happy about the introduction of the 12-member league, as well as the fact that the club numbers may be ramped upwards after two years. He also revealed that Richmond Ladies will take part in an introductory football festival, where Safa will take the 12 teams on a football road trip around the country sometime in April next year.
“All the teams might come to Kimberley or a suitable venue in the Northern Cape where the teams will play against the local sides as part of their introduction,” Amsterdam said. “I know for certain the new teams in the professional outfit will play twice in Gauteng and the Free State before the professional league kicks off.”
Amsterdam, however, said he was concerned about how the deal would affect small teams like his. “Say we win and we ascend to the new league. We won’t be able to host games here (in Richmond). We play on a gravel surface here,” he explained.
Fifa rules prohibit professional sides from playing on and at uncertified venues which do not have the required infrastructure to host teams. Then there’s the regulations regarding public safety and possible broadcast facilities.
Dickson Mathobela, manager coach of Galeshewe Ladies FC, confirmed that they were also invited to Ledwaba’s roadshow, but they did not attend as he had a clashing commitment with the Football Legends Association in Gauteng at the same time. They have, in the meantime, gathered the gist of the briefing about the new league since then he said.
Mathobela queried the club selection process for the professional outfit. “How come they (Safa) resorted to choose well-endowed sides like Mamelodi Sundowns and Bloemfontein Celtic to contribute teams?
“What if they (Sundowns and Celtic) end somewhere down the league log table at season’s end? Are they going to leapfrog over say the club placed second with an equal number of points as the top team,” he asked.
Mathobela said Safa overlooked the fact that all teams generally struggle to make ends meet in the Sasol sponsored conference. He said clubs not included in the new league will likely struggle to hold on to their players as these players will tend to migrate to where they are paid for appearances, instead of where they will be motivated to play for pride and passion – for the love of the game.
Ace Mofokeng manager-coach of Royal Wizards FC also welcomed the new league but questioned Ledwaba’s statements at the roadshow wherein she undertook to encourage especially Premier Soccer League sides to form women’s divisions in their clubs.
“What is going to happen to us, the less fortunate teams, when she does that,” he asked. “Already we have seen the death of regional leagues with the introduction of the provincial sides in the old Sanlam sponsored league,” Mofokeng added.