The eagerly awaited Safa Women’s National League finally kicked off this weekend, but the local football governing body has acknowledged that the newly established league is still far from being a fully fledged professional championship.
Safa had hoped to have raised enough sponsorship money by the official launch this week, but the inaugural season kicked off yesterday without even the prize money being confirmed.
Before the launch of the women’s league, Safa had consulted extensively with La Liga as the two federations have an existing cooperation agreement on the development of the game.
In reference to the clubs’ transition from amateur to professional level, Safa president Danny Jordaan said: “If you look at how these teams are managed; the qualities of the expertise [they have]; the level of the coaching and the technical support ... we have to strengthen them to strengthen the league. We recognise that there is a lot to be done.
“The conversation with the Spanish league was to look at how we can have the transfer of knowledge and expertise. For now, all the expenditure of running the teams is fully funded by Safa.”
Jordaan said that “central to strengthening the commercial value and character of this league is television, which is linked to the commercial package”.
The Spanish Primera División Femenina is rated among the best women’s football leagues in the world, alongside Germany’s Frauen-Bundesliga, the National Women’s Soccer League in US and the Chinese Women’s Super League.
Players earn massive salaries, while clubs get grants and a share of the television revenue in these leagues. This explains why most of the players from the four nations ply their trade in their homelands.
Women’s football director at La Liga, Pedro Malabia’s advice was that sponsorship and television coverage were key components that help create a product that would be easy to sell.
“There are three main pointers. The first one should be visibility, and TV coverage for that is key. The second point is to work on the club management structure. The third should be creating a product to attract the interest of fans, the broadcasters and [corporate] brands,” Malabia told City Press.
He said the Spanish women’s football landscape changed in 2015.
“Although not organising the competition, La Liga decided to get actively involved and work together with the clubs to change.
“I think that, within the past three or fours seasons, you can see the changes,” Malabia said.
Meanwhile, Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis said the new Safa women’s league was the competitive structure she has always dreamed of.
“It’s not where we want to be, but it’s a step in the right direction. It will also help national team coaches for scouting purposes,” she said.
Safa acting chief executive Russell Paul said the Gauteng government has pledged R2 million for the league.
“The objective is to replicate that R2 million in all the other provinces, which means we would have R18 million that will go towards the competing clubs,” Paul said.
He said a knockout competition was in the pipeline.