Inaugural COSAFA Women’s Under-20 competition drives football development

The inaugural COSAFA Under-20 Women’s Championship to be staged in Port Elizabeth from August 1-11 shows the commitment of the Southern African region to developing women’s football and ushers in a new era of competition for female players.

It is the first of two new women’s competitions on the COSAFA calendar in 2019, with an inaugural girls Under-17 tournament scheduled to be held in Mauritius in September as well.    It comes as FIFA steps up its efforts to grow the women’s game around the world, and in particular to fast-track the development of women’s football on the African continent, which has lagged behind the rest of the planet.

As part of the FIFA Forward funding model that sees the global body financially assist members and confederations with their development aims, COSAFA has been asked to host three women’s competitions per year – the senior championship, and one each in the Under-20 and Under-17 category.

“COSAFA is taking on board the philosophy of FIFA and will get behind the global strategy to develop women’s football, which we see as a key driver in the growth of the game as a whole,” COSAFA General Secretary Sue Destombes says.

“As such we have committed to organising inaugural Under-20 and Under-17 competitions under the COSAFA banner this year and are delighted to be able to introduce these to our calendar.

“The response from our members has been fantastic and it shows a real desire to have competitions in these age-groups in women’s football.”

Destombes adds that she hopes the Confederation of African Football (CAF) will follow the same strategy they did with the COSAFA Under-17 men’s competition in 2018, which served as a continental qualifier in which Angola went on to represent the region.

If they do the same for the Under-20 and Under-17 women’s competitions, it would ensure COSAFA participation at those finals as well.

“Having our events as continental qualifiers in the Under-17 and Under-20 age-groups makes a lot of sense for our members,” Destombes said.

“It worked so well with the boys Under-17 competition in Mauritius last year and we hope CAF see the value in applying this to the women’s competitions as well.”

The COSAFA Under-20 Women’s Championship in Port Elizabeth will run concurrently with the senior women’s championship in the same city that will be played from July 31-August 11.