women take centre stage

PREPARATIONS for the inaugural Absa Women's League national championship are in full swing.

PREPARATIONS for the inaugural Absa Women's League national championship are in full swing.

The South African Football Association (Safa) and sponsors Absa will stage the week-long tournament in Tshwane from August 10 to 15 as part of the Women's Month celebrations.

The tournament will feature nine provincial teams from the Safa regions. Eersterus Stadium near Mamelodi will host the opening and closing ceremonies of the tournament, with other matches scheduled for Muckleneuk sports grounds.

Safa is pressing ahead with its objective to take the beautiful game to the people, and Safa Tshwane as a host region is working tirelessly to get supporters around Mamelodi and surrounding areas to attend "the football festival of women".

Balebetse Monnakgotla, Safa's director of competitions, said the tournament will be a combination of football and life-skills programmes. On the football side, experienced referees, administrators and coaches will conduct workshops with tournament referees, team managers and coaches.

Players will also benefit from life-skills workshops that include financial planning, self management and social skills.

Safa chief executive Raymond Hack is satisfied with the league's progress since its inception. "It is pleasing to see a development league that was launched in February developing into a national championship," he said. "We thank our regions for making the Women's League the success it is today, and we are grateful to our partners Absa for supporting Safa's cause to develop women football in the country.

"We are hosting the African Women's Championships in October 2010, and we are confident that tournaments of this nature will generate more interest in women's football, and will also create a bigger pool of players for our national coaches."

Said Desiree Pooe, Absa sponsorship manager : "Playing in a structured league has presented opportunities for development and experience for coordinators and players alike and we are confident this experience will serve them well as they progress in their careers ." - Sapa