THE 16 women’s football teams campaigning in the Free State’s Sasol League are expected to shift into top gear in the second round. The first round was completed over the weekend of 30 to 31 July, with A and B stream leaders AC Milan and Bloemfontein Celtic undefeated. They each finished on 24 points, going into the final lap confident of maintaining their triumphant form. The A and B stream winners will meet after the end of the league to decide the overall champion in the Free State.The overall winner will automatically qualify to represent the Free State at the national final scheduled for October. Celtic are the current reigning champions and have dominated the competition over the years, having won it more than any other club.Only eight clubs finishing in the top eight bracket of the league will receive prize money.The prizes are as follow: 1st R50 000; 2nd R30 000; 3rd R25 000; 4th R20 000; 5th R17 000; 6th R16 000; 7th R15 000; and 8th R14 000. Given financial incentives, the second round is expected to go down to the wire, with the 16 clubs intensifying their effort to claim their stakes. Dark horses in the gruelling race in the A stream are Simunye and Central University of Technology Free State, who are in second place with 18 points and third place with 16 points respectively. Strong challengers in the B stream are Tsumani Queens, 16 points in second position, and Black Urban, 14 points in third place. This year also marks the eighth year of Sasol’s sponsorship of the country’s premier women’s football league played under the auspices of the South African Football Association (Safa).The football federation and sponsors say that the women’s league has played an integral part in contributing to the growth and development of women’s football in South Africa.“The Sasol League has given women’s football structure and a regular platform to train and improve their football skills through the games. This is where most players that are selected into the national women’s football team are sourced from,” said Balebetse Monnakgotla, Safa’s competition director. “The league has certainly paved the way for many of the girls in this country that are passionate about football to participate in the sport on a semi-professional level. At Sasol, we are excited about the growth and development of women’s football and we are proud of our contribution to government’s transformation agenda through this partnership with the South African Football Association. “We feel that we are celebrating South Africa’s unsung heroes, especially considering the overwhelming success of Sasol Banyana Banyana in recent years,” said Brenda Mopeli, Sasol brand marketing. The competition is across all the nine provinces of South Africa. With the exception of the Northern Cape, Western Cape and North West, all the other provinces have a two stream format, while these three only have a one stream format. All the matches are played on Saturdays and Sundays in the afternoon.