South Africa senior women’s coach Desiree Ellis led her side to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup and has praised the work of COSAFA in helping the team to get to the showpiece competition in France.
Ellis is especially excited about the introduction of COSAFA women’s Under-20 and Under-17 competitions this year, which she says will be a major boost to all teams in the region in their big to compete on the African stage.
Eight sides will take part in the inaugural COSAFA Women’s Under-20 Championship that will be staged in Nelson Mandela Bay from August 1-11, when the next generation of young stars will be able to test themselves against their peers.
“For the Under-20 teams it is fantastic that the competition is being played. It will help the profile of the teams and the profile of the region. Coupled with the Under-17 tournament in September, it is a big boost for the region,” Ellis said.
“Zambia has been the Under-17 World Cup, as has South Africa twice, so having these tournaments in the region can only help the growth of women’s football in Southern Africa.”
South Africa and Zambia will also take part in the All Africa Games Under-20 football competition that will be played in Morocco from August 17-29, meaning the COSAFA event will be vital preparation for that.
“With the All Africa Games coming up not long after the Under-20 tournament, it is going to help them prepare, which is fantastic,” Ellis says. “This region can only grow from strength to strength, it is a great initiative from COSAFA, for us to be able to go watch the young ones and them to be able to come and watch us. We can inspire each other!
Ellis has steered South Africa to the last two senior titles in COSAFA and says those tournaments played a massive role in Banyana Banyana’s eventual qualification for the World Cup.
“People cannot imagine how COSAFA has helped us in preparing us for Afcon, to get to the World Cup,” she said.
The draw for the COSAFA Women’s Under-20 Championship was made on Wednesday.
Group A looks a very competitive one, with South Africa up against Namibia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, in what is certainly a Group of Death.
Group B contains Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania and Eswatini, and will also be eagerly contested.
The tournament will run alongside the senior championship, which is also being staged in Nelson Mandela Bay from July 31-August 11.