Soweto, Thursday, 28th March 2019 – Some of the leading figures in women’s football in South Africa have hailed the impact of the Future Champions Gauteng project and the platform that it provides for young girls to develop their football careers.
Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis and national team vice-captain Refiloe Jane, who was a Future Players Talent Search winner in 2009, believe that the future of the women’s game in the country is strong, aided by these kinds of initiatives.
The Future Champions Gauteng has focused on girls and women’s development since its inception through the Future Players and Future Coaches programmes. The inclusion of a U17 girls’ tournament in 2018 widened the platform for girls’ participation, which has been enhanced for this year’s edition. The final between SAFA Johannesburg and Dr BW Vilakazi Secondary School will be played at the prestigious International Tournament on 30th March at the Nike Football Training Centre in Soweto.
It follows some intense action at the Future Champions Gauteng Cup, which was enjoyed by Ellis.
“I have been very excited about the quality of the girls’ football,” Ellis said. “It is possible that we have a few players here for our girls’ national Under-17 side Bantwana.
“Compared to last year, you can really see that the girls have gone away and worked really hard on improving. That gives us coaches the opportunity to look for talent.
“A big thank-you to the Future Champions Project, Gauteng Provincial Government and SAFA for providing this opportunity. I am really looking forward to watching the girls’ final at the Future Champions Gauteng International Tournament,” concluded Ellis.
Jane echoed those thoughts and says her life was changed by the Future Players Gauteng Talent Search and is hopeful that others will follow in her footsteps.
“The Future Players Gauteng Talent Search changed my life because when I won a trip to England in 2009, I had the opportunity to train with Manchester City Ladies and Everton Ladies, and that showed me just what it takes to be a professional,” the Canberra United midfielder says.
“I told myself that when I got back to South Africa I would work that hard on my football and take it very seriously. I had a dream to play in England and I still want to fulfill that.
“It set me on the path to be in the team that qualified for the 2012 Olympic Games (in London) and since then my life has not been the same.”
Jane says she learned so much about what it takes to be successful on and off the pitch, and she has carried that all through her career.
“It changed my outlook and allowed me to dream big, to know that I can play in major tournaments and maybe one day the World Cup, which I will realise this year.
“I am really happy to see that there is a girls’ competition now in the Future Champions Gauteng because back in my time there was no such thing.
“It is exciting to see the tournament evolving to give women an opportunity. This is the perfect platform to showcase talent and you never know, some players may get a call-up to the junior national teams.
“I have been very impressed with the talent on show this year, I’m sure there are players here who can go far in the game,” concluded Jane.
But it is not just the players who benefit. Christa Kgamphe won the Future Coaches Gauteng in 2016 and has also seen her eyes opened by the experience of travelling to Spain to study how football is coached in that country.
“After winning the Future Coaches Gauteng, I look at football in a different way as I have seen the number of possibilities that are at the disposal of women in the country these days,” Kgamphe said.
“It has given me the opportunity to learn and grow, not just domestically, but internationally as well.
“We have so much talent in the country, we just need the platforms for it to grow and shine.
“This year is a huge one for women’s football with the World Cup and hopefully that will inspire many more girls to take up the sport and realise what football can do for them as a career,” concluded Kgamphe.
Says Gauteng MEC for Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation Faith Mazibuko; “It is indeed exciting times to see and realise the growth of women’s football and the impact on young girls. As Gauteng we have committed ourselves to growing not only women football but Women’s Sport in general. We want to see our teams dominating across all sporting codes and we believe the small steps we have been taking through Future Champions and other programmes will indeed come to fruition”.
This year’s Future Champions Gauteng U17 International Tournament is organized by Global Sports International in partnership with the Gauteng Provincial Government and the South African Football Association and is also supported by the City of Johannesburg, LaLiga, Clinix Health, Rand Water, Lovelife, Sedgars Sport and Score Energy Drink.
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