Congratulations are in order for Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies Football Club for winning the inaugural CAF Women’s Champions League by defeating Ghana’s Hasaacas Ladies 2-0 on Friday night at the 30 June Stadium in the Egyptian capital of Cairo.
This is history in the making! This is yet another first for South African football, coming from the Chloorkop-based outfit – who continue to set the trends. Congratulations to coach Jerry Tshabalala and his entire technical team and players. Congratulations to the team’s management, the president, the chairman, staff, supporters and everyone associated with this wonderful football institution. Indeed, the Chloorkop base is the home of African excellence! This is what South African football has been yearning for. Sundowns are one of the few local teams that have been taking women’s football seriously and it comes as no surprise that they are the first ones, not just in the country but the whole African continent, to achieve such a tremendous accomplishment. The whole Sundowns team have become trendsetters of South African football because they always look beyond the limits when others see challenges. They see the bigger picture. Downs and Bloemfontein Celtic are two of the top teams that have always gone out of their way to ensure that women’s football gets the attention and care it deserves.
It is through Downs’ commitment to their cause of taking women’s football to greater heights that the whole country can proudly claim that we were the first ones to produce the CAF Women’s Champions League champions! That the inaugural trophy found its home in our shores and we were the first to lay our hands on it. That’s something no one, not even Ghana, can take away from us. How befitting it was that our ladies had to do it against their counterparts from the West African country? A lot of planning, commitment and preparation went into this magnificent achievement and this should never be taken lightly. In fact, one gets a feeling that South Africa is sleeping on this achievement! This is huge, by any means, and should be celebrated! Here’s hoping that Downs’ historic moment will rub off on other teams, motivate and encourage them to follow suit and take women’s football seriously. You can’t talk Sundowns’ successful Champions League campaign without mentioning Hollywoodbets Super League and Sasol League where these ladies have been dominating and sharpening their skills in the domestic women’s leagues. These leagues have played a very crucial role in preparing Banyana Ba Style for the biggest occasion and their greatest achievement to date. This goes to show that when corporate comes on board and supports women’s football, only great things can be expected. It is more important to support women’s football now than ever before because, as from next season, according to the new CAF club licensing regulations, no men’s team without women’s team under its wing will be able to participate in the CAF inter-club competitions. That means any DStv Premiership team looking to participate in the CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup next season will have to have a women’s team in order to take part. This rule couldn’t have come at a better time to further drive the point home about the urgent need to take women’s football seriously and treat it as an equal to their male counterparts’ game.
It stings that the Ladies only came back with a trophy and gold medals from their continental sojourn. No prize money was won on the night, which is both bizarre and embarrassing. As much as history books will record Sundowns Ladies as the champions of the inaugural Champions League, the players deserve to be rewarded for their effort. They don’t just have to rely on the club’s incentive or financial reward – no, that should be an add-on to the winnings from their campaign. For anyone to take this achievement seriously, it starts with CAF! This is an open invitation to corporate to get involved so that there’s enough money pumped into women’s football so that it also becomes attractive. The ladies are doing their part on the field, it is now up to the different associations and federations to play their part as well. Gone are the days where our female footballers would go to the Olympics or even the FIFA World Cup for a lousy R20 000 as a reward for representing their country! That has to stop because it smacks of disrespect to the ladies and should never happen again. For their male counterparts, just to represent the country at Afcon guarantees them over R100 000 each especially if they make it past the group stages. Can you see the difference?
Sundowns Ladies have won the Hollywoodbets Super League, COSAFA region and Champions League trophies. To think they won the Champions League without conceding a single goal is something to marvel at. That Andisiwe Mgcoyi struggled to find the back of the net throughout the campaign, only to produce a Player of the Match performance with an assist and a goal, smacks of something written in the stars! It clearly shows that the Chloorkop-based Ladies had to be the ones crowned as the Queens of Africa and no one else! Congratulations to Sundowns, once again, and may you continue to lead the way. Continue to take continental football seriously and becoming a force to be reckoned with in the continent. May you continue to take women’s football seriously and putting them on the map. None of your recent success is by fluke, a lot of sacrifice, effort and financial commitment has gone into it. The ladies have not disappointed and if memory serves, it was in 2018 when they last lost a game. Surely our government can also get involved in rewarding the Sundowns Ladies for the wonderful achievement and flying the country’s flag so high. These Ladies need to be celebrated because we are really proud of them. The Sky is the Limit! All hail the Queens of Africa!