The lost child of African football

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Cape Town- The Confederation of African Football last year drafted a women’s football strategy that, in part, seeks to establish women’s soccer foundations.

The idea behind the strategy, which was dubbed #ItsTimeItsNow is that the foundations will create clear player career pathways and professionalise women’s football.

The implementation period for the CAF is strategy 2020 to 2023, but the COVID-19 pandemic could put paid to those plans, for now at least.

The new coronavirus has thrown spanners in football across the world, and for a women’s game that has always played second fiddle to men’s soccer in terms of administration and sponsorship, #ItsTimeItsNow is in serious trouble.

With restricted movements and reduced revenues because of the pandemic, implementation of the strategy has stalled.

CAF has planned to carry out coaching workshops and courses in different regions, and these have now had to be conducted virtually - which is not the best way to advance development of a contact sport.

Where football has resumed, it is being played in empty stadia.

However, some football associations have actively sought to cushion women’s football in these tough times for the sport and the business.

For instance, the Chelsea and Manchester City women’s teams were the curtain raisers for last weekend’s men’s Charity Shield match between Arsenal and Liverpool.

In addition, the UEFA Women’s Champions League also resumed and was televised in Europe.

Such arrangements provide television revenue for women’s football.

These are things CAF could draw lessons from, especially as the world soccer governing body, FIFA, has allocated millions for women’s football as a COVID-19 cushion.

There is also a growing lobby for major men’s teams - such as Mamelodi Sundowns, Kaiser Chiefs and Orlando Pirates - to establish women’s teams.

This will serve to create greater spectator and sponsor interest in women’s football, and give female soccer players to professional administrative and training structures.

 

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