Tadious Manyepo in Harare & Mpho Tebele in Gaborone
After being restricted to just four tournaments by the COVID-19 pandemic last year, the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) has lined up 10 events – including two new ones – for 2021.
Late last year, the region staged the COSAFA Women’s Senior and Under-17 Championships; as well as continental qualifiers in the Men’s Under-17 and Under-20 categories in six weeks.
This year, COSAFA wants more action, and has unveiled the inaugural Women’s Champions League and Futsal tournaments.
In an interview with The Southern Times Sport, COSAFA general secretary Sue Destombes said, “We have a full calendar of tournaments at this stage and we are hopeful we will be able to stage them all, even in these most challenging of times.
“The highlight must the introduction of the regional Women’s Champions League, which will be a zonal qualifier for the new CAF Women’s Champions League which is coming later this year.
“We will be looking to roll it out between May and August, which will contain a preliminary round and then a final tournament. We are extremely excited about this new competition.”
The men’s COSAFA Cup could see professionals from foreign leagues gracing the tournaments as it has been slated for the FIFA official window from May 31 to June 16.
Destombes said the Men’s Under-20 Championship was scheduled for December with the Under-17 tourney likely to be played as part of the Region 5 Games in Lesotho in December. The Women’s Under-20 competition will also take be staged at the Lesotho Games.
The COSAFA Women’s Under-17 tournament will be held in August; the Senior Women’s Championship is pencilled for September, and the Futsal tourney is slated for Mozambique between August and September.
“We are planning for a busy year to fulfil our mandate as COSAFA, which is to develop the game on and off the pitch in the Southern African region. We are excited about what lies ahead for us over the next 11 months,” said Destombes.
Meanwhile, COSAFA has amended its constitution to promote women in leadership positions. This was one of the key outcomes of the organisation’s recent AGM in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Botswana Football Association (BFA) president Maclean Letshwiti – who the COSAFA chairman of legal statutes – told The Southern Times Sport this week that the Executive Committee will now include “at least one woman” as from the 2021 Elective General Assembly, unless there is a vacancy prior to this time in which case that vacancy must be filled by a woman.
The amended Constitution also resulted in the “inclusion of the Ethics Board and inclusion of the Futsal and Beach Soccer Standing Committee”.
Letshwiti said the “statutes are living documents that must from time reflect the evolvement of sport and football in particular and the need to keep in line with CAF requirements”.
COSAFA also adopted the financial reports from the last fiscal year, as well as the budget for 2021.
Reporting by Tadious Manyepo in Harare & Mpho Tebele in Gaborone